CHATHAM – On Thursday, September 19, the Chatham boys’ soccer team hosted Cairo Durham in an early season clash. Both teams came into the game jostling for position in what should be a tightly contested race for the Patroon Conference season. In front of a large crowd, the Panthers rallied from an early deficit to top the Mustangs 2-1.
The early minutes of the first half were hotly contested with each team putting pressure on the other goal. Chatham started off strong earning some early corner kicks while defender turned striker, Joe Williams, peppered the Mustangs’ goal with early shots. In the 18th minute Chatham was whistled for a handball just a few yards outside the box. The ensuing free kick was a well placed strike around the wall and heading towards the corner, Chatham goal keeper Jameson Connor got a hand to the ball, knocking it off the inside of the post and back in front of the goal where a group of Cairo players all converged, unmarked, to touch the ball in for a 1-0 lead.
The game settled back into an even affair with each teams providing quality chances. Just before the half midfielder Gunner Himmel dribbled the ball into the Mustangs area before being knocked off the ball. Joe Oleynek found himself in the right place just outside the box and wide of goal to collect the ball and fire a shot that looked like it would be saved if not for a deflection off a defenders leg that evened the match.
The second half was very similar to the first with very equal play from both sides. In the 66th minute Connor collected a Cairo corner kick and launched a punt over the top of everyone, allowing Joe Williams to race onto it for a one on one with the keeper, but a well timed charge by the goalie allowed for a save. A mere two minutes later Gunner collected a ball sent to the left corner, cut the ball back past a defender on the end line and launched a high bending shot over the keeper and into the side netting for a 2-1 lead.
The later stages of the game saw Chatham the stronger of the two sides with Gunner, Brody Witasek and William Lezama active in the midfield. Haven Hutchinson played a strong game defensively for Chatham along with Connor in goal. The victory was a crucial win, even in the early season, against what should be another team solidly in the mix at the top of the league.
The Panthers have another busy week with games scheduled Monday at Taconic Hills, Wednesday at Greenville, and Saturday hosting Hudson.