Her team was shut out in a season-opening loss to neighboring Bronx Science and couldn’t buy a goal in a first half that saw Columbus defenders block three shots in the box, including one goal-line clearance.
The Clinton boys soccer team was frustrated, sure, but in her halftime team talk, Andrea Milsome wanted her Governors to calm down in the second half.
“We were just rushing in the first half,” Milsome said. “We did create a lot of opportunities, but they weren’t opportunities that we were looking to create. Everything was in the air. We were getting the ball in the final third a lot, but not necessarily winning the ball and actually being able to get clean shots.”
The second half, though, was a different story as Clinton exploded for three goals to beat Columbus, 3-1, Monday afternoon in The Bronx in a battle of two teams that reached the PSAL Class A quarterfinals last fall.
“It was pretty tough in the first half, but we knew we had to come out there and win and that’s what we did,” Clinton forward Darren Harris said.
Harris did his part, scoring two goals after halftime, including the critical equalizer two minutes into the second half.
“That was enormous,” Milsome said. “It changes the whole flow of the game. That totally picked us up.”
Michael Nti capitalized on a Clinton defensive miscue to put Columbus (1-1-0) in front two minutes into the game, rounding the keeper and slotting it in from the edge of the six-yard box. It was his fifth goal of the season.
Clinton (1-1-0), which fell to Bronx Science, 3-0, in its opener Friday, pressed forward and had numerous scoring chances, but couldn’t find the back of the net in the remainder of the first half as Columbus defenders cleared several chances off the line.
But then Harris took a short corner by Max Ojeda and fired it into the upper right corner of the net on an acute angle to level the match at one.
“We’re lucky to have Darren,” Milsome said. “He can put the ball in the back of the net from any angle and he proved it right there.”
In the 51st minute, Sarpong Adjei took the ball off a defender who slipped and lobbed it past the Columbus goalkeeper with the outside of his right foot to put the Governors in front, 2-1.
It was a quality finish followed by an even better celebration as Adjei flipped backward three times before being mobbed by his teammates.
“I didn’t even see the goal. I just took a shot,” Adjei said. “I had it planned before, that I was going to do backflips when I scored so I just did it.”
Harris put the finishing touches on a big win with his second goal of the game in the 66th minute, bouncing a shot from distance off Danielson Montero-Herrera.
“He’s absolutely relentless up front,” Milsome said. “His eye for goal is like none other really and at this level it’s hard to find that.”
The win was critical for the Governors because it kept them in the mix in a stacked PSAL Bronx A division. An 0-2 start could have been a recipe for disaster.
“It’s important and it’s nice to come back after Friday,” Milsome said. “That’s a very tough start to the season with Bronx Science and Columbus back-to-back and now we have four games in eight days, which is really tough.”