MILLTOWN — Saint Mark’s looked to be in total control of its boys soccer game against Glasgow on Sept. 20. The Spartans led, 2-0, after a pair of goals within a six-minute span in the second half. But the Dragons refused to go away, and Saint Mark’s withstood a furious comeback attempt for a wildly entertaining 2-1 win.
Somehow, the game was scoreless at the half — more on that later. The Spartans had a significant advantage on the attack in the first half, and that continued into the second. After a short flurry by Glasgow that included a save by Spartans goalkeeper Sean Lenderman, Saint Mark’s went back on the attack.
A free kick from 25 yards out appeared to be headed just under the crossbar, but Dragons keeper Oscar Velazquez punched it out of harm’s way. That was the latest of Velazquez’s magic on the afternoon, but he couldn’t stop the next chance. Off a corner kick from Matt Ziomek, Angelo Sisofo bounced the ball over the line to give the hosts a 1-0 lead in the 49th minute.
Velazquez made a sliding save in the 54th, but the Spartans touched him for their second goal a minute later. This time, Ziomek picked up the ball near midfield and raced toward Velazquez. He sidestepped a defender or two and had a shot blocked by the keeper. Ziomek, however, chipped the loose ball past the keeper and sent it into the open net to double the advantage.
Glasgow responded in the 59th minute. Kevin Ramirez found George Gibon with some space about 30 yards in front of Lenderman, and Gibon sent a laser between Lenderman’s fingertips and the crossbar to get the Dragons back into the thick of things.
Both teams had chances after that. Velazquez came up big on two occasions with approximately 10 minutes remaining, and Lenderman stoned Gibon from point-blank range in the 72nd. Saint Mark’s had a free kick from six inches outside the 18-yard box just after that, but the Dragons’ wall got in the way.
Lenderman was called upon twice more before the final whistle. He preserved the lead the first time by punching a free kick from Everardo Constantino Rojas over the crossbar in the final two minutes, and in the final minute stopped the Dragons’ final chance. The pressure relented only when the referee’s whistle sounded.
Now, about that first half. Velazquez was simply sensational. He singlehandedly kept Glasgow in the contest as Saint Mark’s dominated play. Ziomek was stopped in the 11th minute, and Velazquez smothered another shot in the 12th. The Spartans sent a header just high on one of their six corner kicks.
Velazquez made a diving stop on Michael Rangean in the 22nd minute. In the 28th minute, it was Anthony Rocco’s turn to be stymied. Velazquez added two more sliding or diving saves before the half ended. The Spartans also shot a ball wide when Velazquez was caught off his line, and on another occasion they hit the right post.
Saint Mark’s outshot the Dragons, 16-5, and had a 6-1 edge in corners. Lendreman made four saves. The Spartans (4-1) play their first road game on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Brandywine.
Velazquez had 13 saves for Glasgow (4-1). The Dragons travel to McKean on Tuesday at 4 p.m.