The St. Albans soccer team went to St. Stephen’s Tuesday for the second of two regular season matchups with the Saints. The first game, played at St. Albans on October 1, was a closely contested 1-0 win for the Bulldogs, and the second game was played with the same defensive intensity. Offensive chances were hard to come by for both teams through the first 56 minutes of play. The Saints loaded up defensively, frequently having five and six defenders back to contain the dangerous St. Albans attack. After regrouping his squad at halftime and reminding them that nothing was going to come easily offensively, Coach Brian Schultz saw the Bulldogs pressure every ball on the Saints’ side of the pitch and consistently cut off clearing lanes and passes in the second half. As they kept the pressure up, St. Albans found itself generating more frequent and higher quality scoring chances.
As the 56:00 mark approached, Rustin Khosravi ’22 found space for a shot in the middle of the field from 30 yards out. That right-footed drive was blocked by the Saints defense, but Khosravi quickly gathered the ball back in, drove to his right to escape a defender, and unleashed another right footer before help defenders could get in place to deny the attempt. This time the ball found the back of the net, just arcing over the outstretched hand of the Saints’ goalkeeper. Khosravi showed his savvy on the goal by moving the keeper to his left and shooting back to the keeper’s right.
The Saints responded to the goal with offensive pressure of their own, forcing the St. Albans backline to clear a dangerous corner at 62:00 and then pushing a ball past the backline to force a foul in the penalty area at the 69:00 mark. As the Saints player lined up to take the potential game-tying kick, the Bulldogs found themselves in familiar territory. This was the fourth consecutive Tuesday in which a St. Albans 1-0 lead hung in the balance in the late stages of games. On September 28, Bullis tied the game with a PK in the final few minutes; Georgetown Prep got an equalizer in the waning minutes of the October 5 game, and just last Tuesday Landon tied it on a PK in injury time. Those heartbreakers were certainly on the minds of goalkeeper Scott Speaker and his teammates. The would-be Saints hero got a good strike on the ball, but it sailed just high, grazing the cross bar as it flew harmlessly into the safety netting that surrounds the Saints’ field. But the hosts were not done yet as a short time later they drilled a shot off the cross bar and then had a close-in chance off a scramble just in front of Speaker.
As the game approached the final five minutes, St. Albans controlled several balls deep in Saints territory using pinpoint passing to keep possession and drain the clock. With the game in injury time, James Boyle ’22 beat his defender down the left sideline and faced the decision to take the ball to the corner to kill more time or to try to feed a driving Niall Fergus ’23 for the goal that would put the game out of reach. Boyle opted for the latter, and it worked in his favor as Fergus took his left-footed feed and one-tapped it under the sprawling Saints keeper.
With the win, St. Albans moves to 4-0-3 in IAC play, maintaining second place in the league standings behind Landon. The Bulldogs are 8-2-4 overall. Next up for St. Albans is a rematch with Georgetown Prep scheduled for 4:30 pm Friday, October 22, on Steuart Field.
Located in Washington D.C., St. Albans School is a private, all boys day and boarding school. For more than a century, St. Albans has offered a distinctive educational experience for young men in grades 4 through 12. While our students reach exceptional academic goals and exhibit first-rate athletic and artistic achievements, as an Episcopal school we place equal emphasis upon moral and spiritual education.