The last time Newton-Conover and Bandys met on the soccer field, the Red Devils blew out the Trojans 7-2 on the road.
On Monday, Bandys played much better but still was unable to get over the hump, dropping a difficult 3-0 game at Gurley Stadium.
“Last time we played them, we came out real fast, took it to them and the game was over in 10 minutes,” said N-C coach Angelo Palozzi. “Bandys has improved a lot. That’s why they are sitting in a good place. They are a good, young team. I think we took them a little bit for granted after the last game. Hopefully, this is a wake-up call to these guys.”
The Trojans (7-7-1, 7-4-1) played excellent defense in the first half, limiting the Red Devils (17-2-1, 11-0-0) to one goal.
Four minutes into the first half, Newton-Conover’s Douglas Palma kicked in a rebound shot after Greyson Frye’s header went off the left post.
It was the lone goal scored for the Red Devils in the half.
Palozzi attributed the slow start to his team’s conditioning.
“We just came out sluggish,” Palozzi said. “I gave the guys a couple of days off and you could kind of tell we weren’t ready for Bandys. We know they are fighting for that third-place spot and we knew they’d come out and give us everything they had.”
Bandys continued its aggressive mentality in the second half. The approach worked until halfway through the period.
Newton-Conover broke free from the close score, netting two goals separated by two minutes.
The first score came on a pass from Kevin Iglesias to Franklin Wepner at the 59th minute.
After his early miss, Frye finally scored a goal in the 61st minute off of a corner kick from Iglesias.
The two goals coupled with the lack of scoring by the Trojans lifted Newton-Conover to its 17th win of the season and 11th in conference play.
“We had prepared to see this team again,” said Bandys coach Mark Simmons. “Tonight, we tried a couple of different things. My guys gave a fantastic effort tonight. Soccer is a game of finishing. You have to put the ball in the net. They took advantage of their changes tonight and unfortunately, we did not.”
With the end of the regular season in site, Palozzi said he is preparing his team for what he hopes is a lengthy run in the playoffs.
“Playoffs are going to be tough,” he said. “Hopefully we can get a couple wins here at home. We have some injuries that are keeping guys on the bench. We’ll see.”