EAST MONTPELIER — Two of the highest-scoring offenses in Division II were kept in check for 100 minutes Friday as U-32 and Harwood settled for a 0-0 boys soccer draw.
The Raiders entered the Capital Division showdown averaging 3.5 goals per match, while Harwood striker Hayden Adams was riding the momentum of a six-goal outburst during the previous three games. An injury to U-32 top scorer Trevor Clayton in the first half reduced the Raiders’ firepower significantly, but HU keeper Ollie Hammond (seven saves) still faced some tough challenges to earn his third shutout. It was also the third clean sheet for U-32 goalie Duncan Lattimore, who finished with five saves after surviving some dicey moments at the end of regulation.
Central fullbacks Skylar Platt and Jasper Koliba were standouts for HU along with outside defenders Morgan Frank and Christopher James. U-32 sweeper Dane Liebermann and stopper Ben Bazis kept a close eye on Adams as fellow Raiders Patrick Towne and Jacob Bizzozero patrolled the outside.
“Harwood is tough and their back line just shut us down,” U-32 coach Mike Noyes said. “They moved the ball well today and Hayden is pretty quick up top. We weren’t man-marking — we just let those guys sort it out and they do a good job. The key was just making sure that they didn’t have multiple players that could link up with him. And then if we could shut down the guys before they get to Hayden, that made the difference.”
Liebermann used his size and speed to limit Adams’ touches in the attacking third. The Highlanders junior proved that he can still be effective while outnumbered, and in the 7th minute he tested Lattimore with a low shot through traffic.
Trevor Clayton sustained a leg injury in the 17th minute and limped toward the sideline with the help of Quentin Mashkuri and Haris Dzonbic. The junior’s absence was instantly noticeable as his teammates searched for ways to get the ball inside the penalty area.
“We didn’t generate much after Trevor went down with his injury,” Noyes said. “We didn’t have a whole lot of good scoring chances. Haris had a couple, but their goalie came up big and played well.”
Harwood earned a corner kick in the 23rd minute, and after the ball was partially cleared James blasted a low shot through traffic that was swallowed up by Lattimore. Two minute later Hammond dove toward the left post to make a save and then thwarted Mashkuri on the rebound attempt. Dzonbic came close to sparking a breakaway in the 32nd minute, but Platt shut down the attempt with a strong shield and a forceful clearance.
“Jasper and Skylar were stuck in the middle because Haris was there and they made really good decisions,” Harwood coach Joe Yalicki said. “When one dropped, the other could defend him. They did a good job of containing him. I thought Morgan was excellent defending his side of the field too. Once he would get the ball, he made great decisions in the back just to keep it and get out of some trouble with possession — rather than just kicking it out for a throw-in or a corner.”
Harwood’s Nicolas Moran made a quick turn at the top of the penalty area in the 38th minute before firing a low bid wide of the left post. Lattimore made a few quality saves near the end of the second half, smothering a 30-yard free kick from Platt in the 70th minute. Towne served up a timely clearance in the 73rd minute on a loose ball in the box, and five minutes later Liebermann booted away a ball at the right post.
Bazis made a long run up the left wing in the 84th minute and chopped a left-footed shot that rolled wide of the far post. In the 92nd minute U-32 threatened to end the game when Dylan Clayton’s corner kick was redirected toward the goal line. Hammond and teammate Ezra Samuel nearly collided while racing after the ball, but the hectic scene ended with another save.
Dzonbic was whistled for an offside violation on a breakaway in the 93rd minute, and at the other end Lattimore had Adams’ number on a counterattack from the left. In the 95th minute Lattimore bobbled a low shot for a half-second before spinning around and pouncing on the rebound. The Raiders keeper caught a left-footed shot by Liam Laidlaw at the end of overtime to preserve the draw.
“As a sophomore, for his first varsity experience, Duncan has stepped in and is doing well,” Noyes said. “He’s still learning and he’s just going to continue to get better throughout the season.”
Harwood and U-32 both stand a 4-1-1. The Raiders will travel to play Lake Region at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. Harwood will visit Stowe the same day.
“U-32 has good structure and their players were really disciplined,” Yalicki said. “There wasn’t a time where suddenly there was a gap on one side of the field or a kid out of position. I think that’s the reason that they’re a tough team to score on. And when they are scoring, they’re going to be able to sit in with a one- or two-goal lead and feel pretty good.”