NEW BOSTON — In his postgame address to his team Monday evening, New Boston coach Greg Mauk was honest with his players.
“You almost gave me a heart attack,” Mauk said.
He wasn’t smiling. He wasn’t joking. And, with the way his Tigers played, his heart concerns may have been warranted.
But, despite making their head coach sweat under the collar, the Tigers dodged bullets when they needed to most, bought a late insurance goal, and grasped onto a season-opening 4-3 win … the first win to start a season in Mauk’s five-year tenure with the program.
For the first 40 minutes, New Boston did just about everything right. The Tigers scored three first half goals, controlled possession and held Northwest’s offense scoreless.
“I thought in the first half, we played great. As the first half went on, we really started to play together more and it made everything easier,” Mauk said. “We saw some success and started using the pass a lot more, making that extra pass. And we were able to spread the defense out.”
But after taking that 3-0 lead into halftime, they allowed Northwest to claw its way back into the ballgame. The three-goal lead quickly dwindled to one and, it could’ve been a tie ballgame had the Mohawks not misfired on a penalty kick midway through the second half.
“We came out of halftime overconfident because of how the first half had gone,” Mauk said. “Northwest is a tough team. They’re never going to let someone roll over them. It seemed like when [Northwest] brought the score close, we got back in desperation mode. We have a lot of first-year players and they don’t understand that 3-0 is nothing, especially against a Northwest.”
New Boston senior Blake Grant got the scoring started with 21:41 left in the first half, taking an assist from Kyle Sexton and finding the back of the net. Grant scored again, giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead, with 8:27 to go.
“Blake didn’t start playing until his junior year,” Mauk said. “Last year was like a feel-out year for him. He didn’t see as much success as he had hoped for. So I think he came in this year motivated. He’s been working his tail off and you can tell when you watch him play. He’s got everything you want from a striker.”
Grant’s two first half scores was followed by a strike from junior Austin Gosselin with 5:08 left, off an assist from Malachi Potts. That produced the halftime score, but also set the stage for an early comeback attempt in the second.
Out of the break, Northwest’s Luke Howard scored the Mohawks’ first goal this season at 37:18. Then, with 31:17 left, his teammates found another opening as Dylan Dehart cut the lead to 3-2.
Grant completed a season-opening hat trick performance, scoring his third goal of the evening with some help from Tanner Voiers at the 23:05 mark, putting the Tigers up 4-2. New Boston eventually learned the importance of that score when Northwest’s Evan Amburgey cut the lead back to one, with 2:45 left, producing the night’s final.
“We played bad in the first half,” Northwest coach Josh Keeney said. “We dug ourselves a hole. With our team this year, we’re not going to be able to get down early. I thought we played a lot better in the second half, moved some people around and got some more chances, but we came up a little short. It’s a hard one to swallow, but we’ll get better. That’s the goal.”
New Boston gets back to action Tuesday evening, traveling to Minford, while Northwest attempts to earn its first win this year on Wednesday night, at Valley.
“I was happy with the way we finished the game but I’m hoping we can put two halves together against Minford,” Mauk said. “The further we go, the more I expect for things to come naturally.”
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