For the second round of the APS Soccer Competition, the 1st XI returned to the hallowed turf of the Jackson Pitch, performing in their first home match of the season on Maytime Fair Day. It was a big occasion, not only for the school as a whole, but to face fierce rivals St. Kevin’s College on such a day was a great honour and very exciting for the team as a whole. Add to that the debut of the new scoreboard and there really was much to be excited about.
From the outset, XC looked to dominate the game in the midfield. Lee Gellis and Mikhail Capodistrias looked to get forward at every opportunity and Marius Sorace seemed to pop up in all the right places, mopping up loose balls at every opportunity. It was however, the wings that were used to brutal effectiveness in the first half to pressurise the SKC defence. Aaron Fabris was getting forward frequently, being fed expertly by Oscar Bertelle on the right flank. The left was just as effective, if not more so. Frank Kanesoulis worked in lock-step with Nicky Edwards and the SKC defence was required to scramble back time and again in order to keep Red & Black players at bay. To add to their issues, a returning Dean Di Pietro also caused havoc for the SKC central defence, making constant runs that threatened to break the match open. Unfortunately, whilst the SKC was constantly bending early in the match, they never broke and for all XC’s hard work, they were still empty handed. That was until Frank Kanesoulis managed to find Nicky Edwards on the left flank who tore into the SKC box and from an acute angle on the left flank floated the ball across the face of the SKC goal, with their goalkeeper stranded, Nicky scored a magnificent goal and finally XC had their reward for all their hard work.
The first half continued in much the same manner, but XC were unable to score another goal. SKC had one strike late in the first half, but it was always travelling wide and never truly threatened the XC goal.
The second half began with XC in control. The pressure the SKC players were under every time they had the ball was immense and a testament to the determination shown by all XC players. New threats entered the fray in the second half. Both wingers were substituted with Daniel Roccioletti leading the line on the right and Nic Sette made his debut for the XC 1st XI team in the left flank. Both players’ raw pace made for enormous headaches on the part of the SKC defence, with Nic Sette’s ball skills on full display early on. He certainly put himself into no less than three goal scoring situations, but was unfortunately unable to convert his chances. In the 58th minute of the match, however, Lee Gellis, who was having a fine game, zipped into the SKC penalty area, threaded the ball through to the looming figure of Dean Di Pietro who coolly slotted the ball into the back of the SKC goal and finally XC had the ascendancy not only on the pitch, but also on the scoreboard.
Although SKC tried hard, they really never threatened the XC goal at any point in the second half, such was the strength and guile of the XC defensive cohort, they seemed continuously bereft of ideas. Frank Kanesoulis looked to get forward at every opportunity and he was in complete control of the SKC right winger. Oscar Bertelle, in a rich vein of form, completely dominated the right flank and then was imperious when moved into the centre back position late in the second half. Seb Lock and Tom Petricca in the heart of defence were twin towers – utterly impenetrable and in control throughout the entirety of the match. The strength of the performance was such that even when the defence was changed, with the insertion of Dylan Garofalo in the second half at right back, there was no sign of a drop in quality. Dylan simply did his job without hesitation. One must also not under-estimate the importance of the role Tom Natoli plays in the second half of the match. His strength and presence was critical in the final quarter of the match. With SKC pressing and looking to reassert themselves, Tom’s capacity to control the flow of play in the midfield cannot be under-valued.
So today marked a fine performance from a strong team. They maintained immense pressure on SKC throughout the match and controlled the flow of the match at all times. If one were to criticise, the team’s effectiveness in front of goal could be questioned. We must be more effective with our striking capabilities and ensure we close teams down whenever chances present themselves. The team now has two weeks of training, with a bye on Saturday 14th May before returning to action on Saturday 21st May at home against a team that really has had the better of us in recent years – MGS.
Mikhail Capodistrias continues to gain in confidence. His dogmatic style in the heart of midfield was on full display today and he has rapidly become an important cog in the heart of midfield.
Luke Dais touches the ball under pressure only twice in the match, such was the effectiveness of the XC defence today. Whilst he had little to do specifically, he was a solid and reliable presence in goals, and the team’s confidence is always high when Luke is playing well.
Dean Di Pietro returned from injury today and doesn’t seem to have missed a beat. He was a great strength up front and penetrated the SKC defence on numerous occasions, finally being rewarded with a goal in the second half. He then went down with cramp when he celebrated to hard following his goal.
Aaron Fabris had the better of the SKC left back throughout the first half. Aaron’s determination to get forward and look to cross into the box was always apparent. He was strong on the ball and very effective when surging forward.
Dylan Garofalo came into the match at right back in the second half. With fresh legs when the SKC attack was tiring he was never troubled by the SKC left winger and was always in control.
Frank Kanesoulis returned to the team after a serious illness and caused the SKC defence constant headaches. His multiple surging runs, particularly in the second half were a joy to watch and his partnership with Nicky Edwards yielded a superb goal. Always cool, calm and collected defensively, SKC had no answer to Frank in either defence or attack.
Tom Natoli came into the match in the second half of the game and made and provided instant stability in the heart of midfield. His strength in winning the ball is undoubtable and his capacity to effectively close down space at the business end of the match is immensely impressive.
Tom Petricca ran his proverbial off throughout the match. He formed an impenetrable pairing with Seb Lock today in the heart of defence and was never bested. There is a steely determination about Tom. A rare thing indeed from such a young player.
Daniel Roccioletti came into the match at the beginning of the second half and caused more than a few problems for the SKC defence. Whilst he had only a few opportunities to show his speed and flair, he caused more than a few headaches for his direct opponents.
Nic Sette debuted for the 1st XI today, starting on the left wing and then moving forward to play as a striker. Nic’s skills are undoubted. He ran rings around many SKC opponents today and was a master of putting himself into positions to score. Such a pity that he was unable to convert these positional opportunities into goals!
Marius Sorace yet again provided strength and stability in his defensive midfield role. The mark of a good player is a capacity to seem to be in the right place at the right time to receive the ball. Marius did exactly this today.A strong tackler and ball winner, Marius enjoyed a host of possession today.
Seb Lock returned to his preferred position of centre back today, from which he completely controlled the match. Whether the ball was in the air or at his feet, Seb dominated the game across centre back and looked to launch attack after attack whenever possible. Seb was determined to make SKC look second rate today and he did exactly that.
Oscar Bertelle showed he is a master of two roles today. Whether he was playing at right back or at centre back late in the match, Oscar dealt with any perceived SKC attack without issue and looked good going forward on the right flank, providing balls into the box for the XC attacking players.
Lee Gellis continues to be in a rich vein of form at the moment. Long may it continue. Lee pressed hard throughout the match and his vision for a linking pass is currently without peer. SKC felt under pressure whenever Lee was in possession of the ball. Lee was the creator of the second XC goal.
Nicky Edwards was quite simply superb today. SKC had no answer to his attacking flair and skill today, and he was rightfully rewarded when he scored an absolutely superb goal to open XC’s account in the first half of the match. No one was more determined to put SKC in their place today than Nicky and it really showed in his outstanding performance today.