High standards are the norm for the Manlius-Pebble Hill boys soccer team, especially under the guidance of long-time head coach Don Ridall, who has won more than 500 career games.
The Trojans are coming off a 2011 season where, at 11-6-1, they made it to the Section III Class C semifinals before Cooperstown stopped them one step short of the title game.
Seven seniors graduated from that squad, but a lot of talent returns – something that MPH showed last Tuesday when it went to Bishop Ludden and blanked the Gaelic Knights 3-0 in the season opener.
After inching into a 1-0 halftime lead, the Trojans got away in the late stages as Albert Blanck, Solomon Ochieng and Gerrit Church each notched goals. Willie Kneisner and newcomer John Alley both earned assists.
Ludden had a fair amount of opportunities to get on the board, but MPH’s defense broke up chances, and goalie Cal Dougherty stopped all nine shots he faced.
Building on that win, the Trojans met long-time rival Faith Heritage on Friday afternoon and struck again, defeating the Saints 4-1.
It was tied, 1-1, at halftime, Jordan Malara putting Faith Heritage on the board. Church and Ochieng took over from there, though, accounting for all of MPH’s goals in a second-half surge that the Saints could not contain.
In its only action last week, the MPH girls soccer team had an impressive effort Friday against Class B contender Cazenovia, which led to a 1-0 victory.
In particular, the Trojans’ defense did a superb job containing Lakers forward Kristie Klein, who had scored six goals in a win over Hannibal earlier in the week. Sammy Appleby stopped all nine shots she faced, and the first-half goal by Alexa Melendez-Martineau held up.
By contrast, when MPH’s boys took its shot at Cazenovia on Saturday, it turned into a 3-2 overtime defeat. The Trojans did erase a 2-0 halftime deficit behind goals from Gerrit Church and Bryce Church, with Luke McQueeny adding an assist, but the Lakers scored in the first OT period to pull it out.