Saturday, June 24, 2017 This Week's Paper

Thunderbirds outplay Decatur, fall 1-0 on penalty shot

An errant Mount Tahoma handball in the box put Decatur’s Marco Bravo in position to put his team ahead 1-0 just ten minutes into the April 1 non-league match and the senior punched it into the back of the net at Mt Tahoma Stadium.

For the next 70 minutes, Mt. Tahoma (1-3-1) controlled the ball, dictated the flow of the game and had several chances for an equalizer goal, let alone a handful more. Instead, the Thunderbirds were plagued by numerous offside calls, poorly struck kicks in front of the goal and a few headers that were almost good enough.

The Gators (2-1) played a strong game, especially freshman goalkeeper Jose Barbosa, who saw nothing but Mt. Tahoma runs and corner kicks at the Decatur goal for most of the match.

“The last couple of years I maybe wouldn’t have wanted to even schedule a game against Decatur because I might be afraid of what might happen,” said MT coach Scott Nelson. “So now I think it shows the advancement of the program. I can take guys off the bench and they still contribute. It’s not like we’ve got seven or eight players and everybody else is kind of making up the numbers. I’ve got a real squad here.”

Thirty minutes into the match, Mt. Tahoma’s Shina Arborowa punched a near-perfect left-footed crossing pass from outside of the box that Vitaliy Dimov headed just a foot over the crossbar.

“That header was a little too high. I tried to get it in there,” said Dimov. “I think we controlled this game and our other two losses, but we just didn’t finish the game.”

Dimov and the Thunderbirds had numerous opportunities in the second half but were whistled for three offside penalties within the first five minutes that looked to be solid chances. Eleven minutes in, Anthony Garibaldi saw an uncontested 10-yard kick sail just right of the goal.

It would be a trend for Mt. Tahoma the remainder of the half. While constantly pressuring and on the attack, the results were offside, wide-right, over the crossbar or wide-left.

“If we play the same, control the game and just finish, we’ll start winning,” Dimov said. “We want to win league, but we’ve got to get some goals to get some wins.”

Coach Nelson felt confident, following the game, that his squad was getting very close to turning the corner on the season and becoming a threat in the 3A Narrows League race.

“You don’t get points for style or for the number of shots and possessions and things like that,” Nelson said. “You get points for goals in the net, and that’s the part we’ve got to work on. I feel like we’ve got the personnel to win games and do well enough to make the playoffs and that’s our goal. Next up we’ve got Wilson and that game’s for real.”

Mt Tahoma hosts Wilson at 6:30 p.m. April 15.