Truman Brodeur gets ready to score the go-ahead goal as teammate Sean Connolly screens a defender during RHAM’s 2-1 victory over Lewis Mills 2-1 on Sept. 16.
RHAM boys’ soccer used timely goal scoring and a stout defense to outlast Lewis Mills, winning 2-1 at RHAM High School on Sept. 16.
After 38 scoreless minutes, RHAM senior captain Cooper Halotek broke the drought with a 50-yard goal off a free kick from the left corner of the midfield, giving the Raptors a 1-0 lead less than two minutes before the halftime break.
Halotek booted a high-arching shot into the sun-filled sky, which dropped into the right hand corner of the net.
“I’ve been doing that in practice. I’ve done that in previous games,” Halotek said of his magnificent moon ball. “I know I can hit that ball and I’m just trying to put it in a dangerous position.”
Halotek’s kick provided the only scoring highlight of the first half, yet the visiting Spartans tied it less than a minute into the second half when senior Ian Nonowski found the back of the net.
In the 64th minute, junior Truman Brodeur again broke the tie with a go-ahead goal when he fired in a shot from point blank range after receiving a free kick assist from Halotek.
Halotek said he originally was going to shoot another high kick near the goal, but spotted Brodeur with an opening in front of the net.
“I thought it was a better play,” added Halotek.
Brodeur’s blast proved to be the game-winner as the Raptors defense thwarted a couple of late attacks from the Spartans.
“One of the things that we have been preaching a lot is being able to attack and defend as a team with balance,” said assistant coach Tim Barry, who was filling in for head coach Ray Bell. “It took us 10-15 minutes to adjust. They were pressing hard, but we held up on defense and offensively we were able to build some momentum.”
Senior Bradley Lim had a pair of key defensive plays late to seal the victory, including deflecting a midair shot that would have tied the game with 4:30 remaining in regulation.
“I was just trying to get between the ball and goal and trying to take his angle out and force him to the end line,” Lim said of the crucial deflection. “When he shot it, I just stuck my leg out.”
Barry praised Lim for his effort, calling him an “incredibly hard worker” and “tough as nails.”
Halotek, Lim and goalie Erik Buden are captaining the Raptors on the field.
Buden made three saves in the game and withstood an aggressive Lewis Mills attack early in the game, making a pair of stops within the first ten minutes of the game.
“We just had to keep doing the job and keep communicating with each other,” Buden said of Lewis Mills’ early onslaught. “We just needed to focus and keep talking to each other.”
Buden is in his third year starting in goal and Barry said his experience pays off in difficult moments.
“He comes to work every day and is a student of the craft of goalkeeping,” Barry said of Buden. “He is a kid with fantastic feet, he reads the game really well, and he has continued to get bigger and stronger throughout the years, but not lose the flexibility and explosiveness.”
Barry added that because of his extensive time in goal, Buden was able to stay composed even when the Spartans scored early in the second half.
Buden gave credit to the defenders in front of him, adding, “As a keeper and on the defense in general you have to have a short memory so with something like that happens you just have to let it go and focus on the next play.”
Lewis Mills threatened one final time in the final minute, but fittingly Halotek gained possession and sent a sky-high kick towards the opposite end of the field.
Halotek and Brodeur provided the scoring, yet the Raptors had several players help power the offense.
Juniors Jacob Dooley and Sean Connolly consistently attacked the opponent’s end, but their shots throughout the game were either rejected or just off the mark.
Dooley has been a pleasant surprise to the coaching staff this fall, scoring the game-tying goal in the second half as RHAM tied Tolland on Sept. 13.
Barry called Dooley, “cool, calm and collected” and a “stabilizing force” for the team this fall.
RHAM opened the season with a 4-1 win over Manchester with the four goals coming from Halotek, Connolly, Max Sementa, and freshman Michael Thatford.
On Monday, the Raptors dropped their first game of the season, losing 2-0 to Berlin. As of publication, they have a record of 2-1-1.
The team captains all said they want to see the team communicate better on the field and keep a consistent intensity during the game..
Barry believes the team has the right ingredients to be successful, now it’s just about blending them all together.
“High school soccer is not made up of individuals; it’s about how strong your unit is. The season is a grind.” added Barry, who is in his ninth year as an assistant with the program. “That consistency and leadership from them is what we’re looking for. They are developing that voice, but not every leader has to be loud. Different styles of leaders are what will drive our success.”
Next week, the Raptors have a pair of road games—at East Catholic on Tuesday and Northwest Catholic on Thursday—before returning for back-to-back home games against Windsor on Oct. 4 (3:45 p.m.) and Enfield on Oct. 6 (4 p.m.).
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin