Sep. 14—MANCHESTER — After beginning the season with two scoreless draws, Manchester High boys soccer coach Jon Cohn decided to change his team’s formation for its game against RHAM, moving dynamic playmaker Matt Cote into a offensive midfielder role.
The gamble paid off handsomely.
Cote scored three minutes into the second half to seal the Red Hawks’ 2-0 win in Central Connecticut Conference East interdivisional play Monday.
“We were playing him as more of a holding midfielder, and we made an adjustment,” Cohn said. “I think he did well and found success. The systems are somewhat overrated but I needed to make a change tactically and psychologically.”
Sedem Omega added a goal and an assist for the Red Hawks (1-0-2), who host Southington on Thursday. Goalkeeper Will Slayton made seven saves.
Goalkeeper Erik Buden finished with three saves for the Raptors (0-1-0), who visit Berlin on Thursday.
Omega broke the scoreless deadlock with 14:38 remaining in the first half. A Raptors defender misplayed a long ball and Omega pounced on the loose ball.
Omega raced into the Raptors box and slotted the ball past Buden to give the hosts a lead.
Cote doubled the hosts lead with 37:40 remaining. The senior hit Omega streaking down the left sideline.
Omega crossed the ball into the Raptors box, where Cote hammered it into the back of the net.
“There was a lot of time left and I knew we needed another goal,” Cote said. “Sadem and I made eye contact and he slotted a beautiful ball back to me in the box and I finished it. It’s something we go over all the time in practice, finishing those plays.”
Sean Connolly nearly pulled the Raptors back within one with a strike from outside the box that hit the crossbar with 12:20 remaining.
Spencer Pilkington fired a second shot on frame, but Slayton dove to his right to deflect it away.
“We had some breakdowns and gave up two goals we probably shouldn’t have given up,” RHAM coach Ray Bell said. “The last 30 minutes we pressured them and had some chances. We have to get back to work. We’ll be fine.”
Cote’s ability to play multiple roles — either as a primary scoring option at the forward position or as a facilitator and pace-setter in the midfield — at a high level has made him an invaluable piece of the Red Hawks’ offensive attack for the last three seasons.
“One of the things I always want to see is who leads the team in the summer? Who’s stepping up as a leader?” Cohn said. “Matt is a leader. He’s the constant steady force, always wanting the best for the team. He’s the relief valve for everybody, and he embraces that. He wants the ball.”
Cote has emailed game film to several college coaches in order to raise his recruiting profile.
Two programs, Amherst College and the University of New Haven, have responded.
“Amherst asked if I could go to a camp on October 17th, and New Haven was asking if I could fill out a questionnaire for them,” Cote said. “It was a good feeling to get those emails back. It was really exciting. I’m just waiting for my recruiting to pick up.”
EAST CATHOLIC 2, TOLLAND 1. In Tolland, Killian Boyle recorded the game-winner as East Catholic recorded a CCC East interdivisional win.
Cooper Gentile gave East Catholic (1-0-1) the lead with 15 minutes left in the first half.
Boyle, who broke his arm when East Catholic visited Tolland last year, put his team up two with eight minutes to play.
Hunter Dutton cut the deficit to one for Tolland (0-1-0) with just over a minute to play, but the hosts couldn’t tie it up. James Silvay assisted.
AJ Bushnell finished with four saves in the win while Cullen Rublewski stopped six shots for Tolland.
East Catholic is at Platt Thursday while Tolland welcomes Hall Friday.
ENFIELD 2, EAST HARTFORD 2. Sophomore Jake Giustina’s late goal gave Enfield a tie with the host Hornets in a CCC East interdivisional game.
Luke Semanie opened the scoring for Enfield (0-0-2) four minutes into the game. The Hornets (0-0-1) tied it thanks to an Eagles own-goal just before halftime.
Oscar Ramirez put the Hornets ahead with a goal 11 minutes into the second half.
But the Eagles tied it when Giustina found the back of the net on a rebound of a corner kick with nine minutes to play.
East Hartford travels to South Windsor Wednesday. Enfield heads to Bloomfield Friday.
GLASTONBURY 6, NW CATHOLIC 1. Ali Taleb recorded the hat trick as the Guardians earned their first win of the season in a CCC West interdivisional game in Glastonbury.
Adam Molusis added two goals for the Guardians (1-1-0) while Kevin Clarke had one.
Glastonbury used four goalies Monday: Josh Patermo, Kane Mazur, Alex Bellofiore and Patrick Butler. The quartet combined for three saves. The Lions are 0-2-0.
Glastonbury welcomes Farmington Monday.
EAST WINDSOR 4, SMSA/BULKELEY 2. In Hartford, Taylor Ribeiro and Drew Meyer each had a goal and an assist as the Panthers earned an NCCC win at Dillon Stadium.
Trailing 1-0, the Panthers (1-0-0) received three straight goals from Nicholas Parakilas, Ribeiro, and Meyer to take the lead into the half.
The Tigers (0-1-0) cut the deficit to one midway through the second half, but Nicholas Saponare added an insurance goal five minutes later. Landen Carleton assisted.
Evan Witzke had five saves for East Windsor, which welcomes HMTCA Friday.
SOMERS 4, EAST GRANBY 0. Tommy Lafayette scored twice as the Spartans earned an NCCC win at home.
Tommy Lesco opened the scoring for the Spartans 23 minutes into the game after a pass from Tristan Hogan.
Four minutes later, Lafayette made it a two-goal game. Teammate Dylan Doody assisted on the play.
Lafayette struck again three minutes into the second half to put the Spartans up three. Teammate Joe Burzynski completed the scoring with 10 minutes left.
Owen Argiro didn’t make a save in the win. Matthew Fagnant stopped six shots for the Crusaders (1-1-0).
Somers travels to Canton Saturday.
For daily updates on high school sports in JI’s coverage area, follow Kyle Maher on Twitter: @KyleBMaher, Facebook: Kyle Maher, and Instagram: @KyleBMaher.