Moore than enough
Maple Grove offense too much for Thunderbirds
Maple Grove striker Eli Moore came awfully close to notching a hat trick in just the first 10 minutes of Friday afternoon’s Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association Central Division game against Chautauqua Lake (2-1-0, 2-1-0), leading the Red Dragons (3-0-0, 2-0-0) to a 5-1 victory along the way.
Cara Abbey has had the opportunity to coach some of the most talented offensive players in Section VI over the course of her tenure with Maple Grove, and now it looks like the sophomore star is poised to join those ranks.
On hand for the performance was former captain Caleb Foley, who left Maple Grove last year with 64 goals to his name, and helped Moore develop along the way.
“He’s doing a great job,” Abbey said of Moore. “I have been gifted with a lot of hard workers the last couple of years. Caleb Foley was obviously one of the top goal scorers Maple Grove has had. Eli has benefited from watching kind of the transformation of our attack the last couple of years and has had the advantage of learning from other people’s mistakes and from other people’s experience.”
Four minutes into the game Moore was granted his first offensive chance following a pass by RJ Helt. With space on the left side, the sophomore dropped his defender on a cutback move and teed up a beauty from 25 yards out that curved inside the right post and past the hands of goalkeeper Tate Olson.
Two minutes later, Tristan Spillane led the Red Dragons on another rush, drawing defenders before feeding Moore in the center of the field.
There, he split a pair of Thunderbirds and finished off his second goal with a quick release to make it 2-0.
Completing the early push was Porter DeMink near the midway point of the half.
With a corner kick on the way, DeMink planted himself on the backside of the Chautauqua Lake net, where he was able to calmly finish off a loose ball sent over from Adam Marsh to make it 3-0.
Maple Grove would threaten to grow its lead to four with a header that caromed off the crossbar shortly before halftime.
Despite falling into a hole in the opening half, Chautauqua Lake would respond well in the second period.
Elias Quintero drove the offensive possessions early, just narrowly losing a foot race with Maple Grove goalkeeper Andrew Auer in the first few minutes of the half.
Quintero then found Ian Riedesel for a low shot that was grabbed by Auer, before picking up the lone goal for the Thunderbirds midway through the half following a Maple Grove turnover.
“It is a never-die attitude,” Chautauqua Lake coach Mike Putney said. “We were going to always give everything we’ve got, and that is what I expect from my players is to come out and work hard. They capitalized on their opportunities early, and we talked about that. A good test early, I like it. You want to play these teams like this that are well-established teams and see where you are at and see what you have to work on. Going forward we look at this as a little stumbling block, and you regroup and you come back the next game.”
Alex MacCallum would take it upon himself to pull the Red Dragons out of their brief second-half lull.
The junior midfielder struck a perfectly placed corner kick with seven minutes to play that could not be reached by Olson, and then added another tally a minute later, ripping home a crossing pass by Nick Golando.
The Red Dragons will play Southwestern today after having to deal with an extended layoff the past week.
“We’re kind of working through the kinks,” Abbey said. “I think because it is our third game we are still forming the identity of this team, compared to previous years. We lost some big people last year, although we are working through that and filling those gaps. Each year is different, each year has a new identity and we had two games early on, and then it has been a week since our last game. A lot of teams have played three or four games already and this is just our third game now.”