Boys’ soccer: Pembroke keeps the good times rolling with a win over Coe-Brown

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 10-04-2023 12:13 AM

NORTHWOOD – Just a week ago, Pembroke Academy boys’ soccer had little to feel encouraged about. A 1-0 loss to Bow on Tuesday dropped the Spartans to 1-6-1 on the season. But a week later, Pembroke’s flipped its season upside down, having won three games in a row, including Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Coe-Brown (7-3-0). 

The last two wins, against the Bears and Merrimack Valley, came on the road against two top teams in Division II. The Spartans (4-6-1) still aren’t quite back to .500 yet, but they’re riding high into their final five games of the regular season.

On Tuesday, the Spartans received goals from Sean Murphy (in the 24th minute) and Sean Bonisteel (in the 52nd minute). Coe-Brown’s lone score came in the final minute from Caleb Jones. Here are three notes from the matchup:

Pembroke capitalizes off the counterattack

Both times the Spartans found the back of the net came from quick transitioning from defense to offense. Like against Merrimack Valley on Saturday, Pembroke didn’t necessarily dominate possession of the ball, but when the Spartans did control, they made it count.

Because Coe-Brown pinched its outside backs forward, head coach Drou Goff explained, that created more 2-on-2 situations between Pembroke’s forwards and the Bears’ defenders when the Spartans’ defenders came up with stops.

“They’ve done a really good job of taking in information when me and (assistant coach Hunter Boyce) see stuff that we can capitalize on and making transitions to that,” Goff said. “The last few games, they’ve been able to adjust and take that in full into the game.”

Confidence growing

The improved fundamentals for Pembroke are just one side to the coin, however. Success breeds success, and the Spartans’ triumphs have built their confidence way higher than it was earlier this season during the rough start.

“They’re excited and they’re seeing now the rewards of how they’ve been playing which is awesome,” Goff said. “The struggle is trying to keep the mentality of building on it in practice and bringing that to the games because it’s an easy thing to think we’ve done well these last few games, and now we can sit back, and it’s not (the case). We’re still trying to pull ourselves up the table.”

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Now 4-6-1 and in 12th place out of 18 teams in Division II, Pembroke will look to keep climbing the standings when it hosts John Stark (2-10-0) on Saturday morning.

Coe-Brown takes a step back 

For a team that had played the last two weeks without several starters, the return of everyone on Tuesday should’ve been a refreshing turn of events. But that’s not how it panned out.

The Bears struggled to play with decisiveness, allowing the Spartans to slow them down.

“Not a good performance,” head coach Christian Gompert said. “This is the first time we’ve been back full for about 15 days, so we had some rust in there, moving a lot of guys around, and that’s difficult for them to settle into a routine. ... We believe we’re a solid team, but that performance was not great, especially because we were just letting ourselves down with the things that we could control.”

In addition to rust, the edginess that Pembroke played with seemed to get under Coe-Brown’s skin a bit too frequently.

“That’s a component that a number of the teams bring, and if we don't know how to adapt to that or bring that then we’re not prepared,” Gompert said. “We’ve gotta be able to handle that stuff.”

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