Hollis Brookline boys soccer rides hot streak

HOLLIS – After sooner-than-expected exits in each of the past two state tournaments, Hollis/Brookline boys soccer coach Steve Martus was understandably apprehensive heading into Tuesday’s NHIAA Division II first-round match against

Plymouth Regional.

Sure the seventh-seeded Cavaliers had beaten the No. 10 Bobcats, 3-1, in Plymouth on Oct. 2. And, sure, the Cavaliers closed out the regular season on a five-match winning streak.

“We were disappointed that our seasons had ended sooner than we thought they should have,” Martus said.

The 2019 tournament, however, has gotten off to a pretty solid start.

The Cavaliers benefited from two deflected shots that ended up in the back of the Plymouth net and built a 3-0 halftime lead en route to a 4-0 victory. Hollis went on to travel to Lebanon to face the No. 2 Raiders (14-2) on Saturday.

Senior midfielder Max Burns opened the scoring 12:47 into the match with a blast from just inside the 18-yard line that struck a Plymouth defender and skittered past goalkeeper Joseph Beyden Stratton (four saves).

Sophomore back Aiden Dufoe made it 2-0 just over 17 minutes later on a similar beneficial bounce. Dribbling down the left sideline, Dufoe unleashed a low shot that was headed to the right side of the net before it was inadvertently redirected past Stratton.

Hollis took a 3-0 lead with 2:30 left in the half when a shot by junior midfielder Bryan Wright struck the crossbar and came right back out to senior striker JJ Kennedy, who headed the ball into the twine.

Plymouth established the tempo early in the second half, and nearly scored on a bad-angle shot along the end line that was hauled in by senior keeper Ryan Coutu (five saves).

Coutu came up huge with just under 10 minutes remaining when Plymouth’s Sean Rosene was awarded a penalty kick. But Coutu guessed right, sliding to his right to make the save and then smothering a follow-up shot to preserve the shutout.

The Cavaliers capped the scoring with 45 seconds left when Kennedy notched his second goal of the match with a header off a pretty header pass from junior striker Ethan Smith.

Now the Cavs can turn their attention to Lebanon, which beat Hollis/Brookline, 3-2, in both teams’ season opener on Aug. 30.

“We’re a different team now than we were at the start of the season,” Martus said. “We had a lot of players who were hurt and now I think, with everyone back and healthy, we’re a much deeper team. (Lebanon) is a strong team but it’s someone I think we match up well against.”