Boys Varsity Soccer Opens Season with 1-0 Victory at San Rafael

On Friday night, April 23 the Branson Boys Varsity Soccer Team claimed a hard fought 1-0 victory in their season opener. The game was a thrilling back and forth affair under the lights at San Rafael Stadium. The Bulls put in an excellent team effort on defense with every player working hard and providing 1 or 2 key moments to keep San Rafael from generating any offensive rhythm.

San Rafael started the game strong, pressing the attack over the first 5 minutes but, as was the story of the game, the Bulls defense held fast. The Bulls settled in and began to control more of the game and press forward.  In the 14th minute, senior striker Josh Batteer was fouled 20 yards outside the box. Junior co-captain James Daly’s free kick was perfectly placed into the box where Josh Batteer out-jumped a crowd to head the ball into the net and give Branson the 1-0 lead.

The rest of the first half saw both teams generate chances through corner kicks. Junior goalie Finn Dossey came out twice to defend, getting fouled once in the 18th minute, and rising in the crowd to gather in another corner a few minutes later.

The second half required more stout defending from the Bulls. Juniors Cooper Hoffman and Aydin Ulubay stepped in multiple times to thwart San Rafael’s attempts to get players through on goal. Outside backs, junior Ian Lind and senior Jake McFadden chased down any and all runners on the wing and the midfield of juniors Connor Williams, James Daly and senior Connor Thorp disrupted all of San Rafael's attempts to control the game.

Branson was dangerous on the counter and had a few good chances to add a goal. Senior Justin Forde swung in a perfect cross to Josh Batteer but the San Rafael goalie was alert and came out to smother the shot. Senior co-captain Connor Thorp dribbled through multiple defenders in the box but his shot was also stopped by the San Rafael keeper.

In the 70th minute San Rafael appeared to break through and even the match but their goal was ruled offsides. In the final minute, San Rafael forced two corners bringing their goalie up into the attack, but after the second corner was headed away the Bulls were able to claim a well-deserved victory.

The full team effort also included a great performance from a group of freshmen. Jaden Sher, Luke Daly, Wiley Kendall and Fred Zerrestein-Manshour all stepped in with significant contributions to the Bulls' victory

by Chas Thorp

Boys Varsity Soccer team after their season-opening win.