East Lansing stayed in a tie atop the CAAC Blue boys soccer standings with a 4-1 home win over Eastern Tuesday night.
Tommy Lammers and Jared Howenstine scored in the first half and DeJuan Jones and Grant Brogan scored in the second for the Trojans (7-1-2 overall, 2-0 CAAC Blue), who took a while to get going, according to coach Nick Archer.
“I was pleased with how we were distributing it at the end, we were just back on our heels at the start of the game,” Archer said. “Eastern did a nice job, they were hustling, they moved the ball, they beat us to the ball, so I give them credit.”
Konray Blamo scored the lone goal for Eastern (4-2, 0-2), the 12th of the season for last year’s State Journal Player of the Year.
The Quakers have an impressive depth of skilled players in the field, but East Lansing was the beneficiary of what Eastern coach Jeff Davis said is his team’s Achilles heel, lack of experience in goal. Starting keeper Nayaha Abdallah was pressed into service, with apparently very little previous training at the position.
“We have really inexperienced goaltending, and that kills you,” Davis said. “He gave a great effort, he’s very young, we put him in a vital position in goal, and hopefully with experience we’ll get better there.”
East Lansing opened the scoring halfway through the first half, when Eastern failed to clear a Trojan corner kick. The ball fell to Lammers at the 18-yard line, and his shot beat Abdhallah to the upper corner of the far post.
Blamo tied the game with a great individual effort, picking the pocket of an East Lansing defender about 35 yards out and taking the ball in clean on goal. His clinical finish gave Trojan keeper Kellon Johnston-Roper no chance, and made the score 1-1 with 15:54 left in the first half.
Noel Fuentes set up East Lansing’s second goal, beating two Quaker defenders on the right wing and finding Howenstine open in the box. The shot hit the near post but caromed off of Abdallah with 4:18 left on the clock, and the half ended with the Trojans holding a 2-1 lead.
Blamo very nearly tied the game again ten minutes into the second half with another steal from an East Lansing back, but his shot from a sharp angle rolled inches wide of the far post.
Eastern hung with East Lansing for much of the second half, but Jones stretched the lead with 14:37 left in the game, taking a through ball from Cam Dotson and beating Abdallah to the near post, a goal that took the wind out of Eastern’s sails.
“In a 2-1 game, when you give up one that you should have had, it takes away all the momentum,” Davis said.
Brogan finished the Quakers off with 7:48 left when he turned in a rebound that made the final score 4-1.
“Eastern is always dangerous,” Archer said. “Every win is a good win, but this league is so tight, and Eastern is a team than can slip you up. We were cautious today, maybe too cautious at times.”