NEW BEDFORD — Talk about using your noggin.
New Bedford headed in three goals en route to notching a 4-2 Big 3 Conference boys soccer win over Durfee Thursday night at Andrea McCoy Field.
When the first half began, Durfee came out of the gates maintaining most of the possession, scoring a goal in the eighth minute of the match, winning the individual matchups and frustrating the New Bedford coaching staff.
“They had a little bit more intensity and they were going after the ball a lot more than us,” said New Bedford coach John Macaroco. “Those battles needed to be won, and we just weren’t doing it.”
The Whalers responded five minutes later, when New Bedford defender Marcel Sousa sent a free kick into the middle of the box, with forward Damon Green taking the shot on goal and forward Marcos Estavao capitalizing on the deflection to tie the score at 1-1.
Estavao made his presence known in the 35th minute once again when he brought the ball up the right side of Durfee’s net, got past three defenders and put the ball up in the air for Green to head it in and give the Whalers a 2-1 lead.
Even with a lead at hallftime, Macaroco still felt his team wasn’t playing to it’s full caliber.
“We needed to stick to the game plan,” Macaroco said, “We were a little bit selfish with the ball I think. We have skilled players but sometimes instead of passing it they want to take an extra touch or take someone one-on-one.”
A lack of selfishness on New Bedford’s side led to two more goals for the Whalers in the second half.
The first came off a free kick in the 59th minute following a penalty, with midfielder James Matos driving the ball from the right side of the net and forward Michael Florez finishing the play with a beautiful diving header. After Durfee scored on a penalty kick to cut its deficit to 3-2, a head-in goal by New Bedford forward Gil Antunes off a corner kick in the 72nd minute gave the Whalers an important insurance goal and capped the scoring
“It was a big win for us, we’ve been out of the Big 3 (championship) for the last couple years,” Macaroco said.
WHAT IT MEANS: With the win under its belt, New Bedford (11-1-1, 1-0-1) now awaits a matchup against undefeated Brockton for the Big 3 championship on Tuesday at Brockton. “It’s going to be a tough task, it’s always a hostile place to play,” Macaroco said. “Hopefully we will be up to par.”
AVENDANO SHINES IN NET
New Bedford goalie Javier Avendano had a solid outing in net with eight saves, including two crucial stops in the dwindling minutes of the game. One came on a beautiful chipped-in pass by a Durfee midfielder that was snagged by Avendano two yards out from the goal, and the other came from the right side of the net with Avendano fearlessly diving in front of a Durfee forward for the ball.