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Boys Soccer

ConVal grabs OT victory over Keene

Wheeler scores in first OT  to give Cougars a 3-2 win

The ConVal boys soccer team played six overtime games last season and were unable to grab a single victory.

But that will not be the case this year.

In the first OT game for the Cougars in 2013, senior Austin Wheeler scored the game-winner with 3:43 remaining in the first extra session to give ConVal a 3-2 win over Division I Keene — which is coached by ConVal graduate Michal Broder — on Tuesday night.

“In overtime, I thought we really controlled the play,” said coach Jon Hall. “We came out to win.”

The two teams played an overtime game last year, but it was Keene which put away the game-winner in the first minute.

“We were in six overtime games last year and didn’t win one,” said Hall. “To be in that position again and come away with a win is huge.”

Wheeler’s goal came after a failed clear by the Keene defense, and the senior striker made the most of the opportunity.

“He took on the last defender, got into the box and was able to beat the Keene goalie,” said Hall.

ConVal took the early lead when junior Ian Szep corralled Wheeler’s shot off the post and put it away for the 1-0 lead just 11:30 into the game.

But after ConVal was able to control the pace of play through the opening 20 minutes, Keene bounced back and dominated the rest of the half. And it translated into a pair of goals from David Idelkope and Austin Ells in the final five minutes that put the Blackbirds ahead 2-1.

“They really took it to us in the middle 40 [minutes] of the game,” said Hall.

It would remain that way for most of the second half before senior Jack Lithgow scored his first of the season with five minutes left to send the game into overtime. Campbell French’s free kick found its way into the box and senior defender Riley Henry was able to deflect the ball to Lithgow, who headed it in.

Hall points to a switch to five midfielders midway through the second half as the turning point of the game.

“We did a good job moving the ball forward,” said Hall.

Senior Liam McNally made seven saves and improved to 2-0-1 in his first year as the starting keeper.

“To get through the first three games at 2-0-1 is a good spot to be in,” said Hall.

The Cougars hosted Monadnock on Wednesday and travel Friday to Hollis/Brookline, which was undefeated entering play on Wednesday and finished runner-up in Division II last year.

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