WILMINGTON Archmere goalkeeper Blake Parker was tested throughout the Auks’ nonconference boys’ soccer battle with host St. Elizabeth on Tuesday afternoon.
Parker stood up the challenge by making ten saves, including one in the final minute, to help Archmere hold off the Vikings for a 2-1 victory at Alapocas Run State Park.
“You have to stay mentally tough. When you’re getting a lot of shots thrown at you, and they’re working you physically, you have to stay positive and believe in your team,” Parker said. “If that happens, everything will come through at the end.”
Archmere (6-4) nursed a one-goal lead heading into waning minutes as St. Elizabeth brought men up in an attempt to get the equalizer, and in the 80th minute, the Vikings generated their last chance with a cross into the box.
Parker stopped the first shot that came is way, but the ball got away from him, setting up a rebound opportunity. A St. Elizabeth’s player kicked the rebound at the net, but an Archmere defender blocked the shot and cleared it out, preserving the Auk lead.
Parker’s heroics in front of the net against the Vikings (5-5) continues a recent run of great games, and that strong play has come despite Parker not getting the proper attention in practice because Archmere does not have a goalkeeper coach.
“We really don’t devote nearly enough time in practice in terms of developing his skill set. Since I’m sending him out there and saying ‘go out there and play,’ he’s emerged as a goalkeeper the last two weeks,” Auk head coach Bob Bussiere said. “He’s communicating well with the backs, a lot more aggressive off his line and playing a smart position.”
After a scoreless first 52 minutes, Archmere got on the scoreboard first when Sean Murray scored on a quick direct kick from 25 yards, and Zach Dainton followed that up with a breakaway to give Archmere a 2-0 lead in the 61st minute.
The Vikings responded and cut their deficit to one goal when Nicholas Moffitt rocketed a Martin Newswanger shot in the next in the 65th minute, but St. Elizabeth head coach Ed Gibbons would like to see his team show a sense of urgency earlier in games.
“All season, we’ve actually played pretty good soccer,” Gibbons said. “The urgency to go after teams early has been lacking the past couple of games, but that desire, that fight at the end and that heart you need is coming a little too late. They want it, but it was a little too late.”