LOWVILLE — The first encounter this season between South Jefferson and Lowville in boys soccer went down to the wire and even further.
Their latest meeting, after the Spartans won the first meeting in overtime, wasn’t quite as close on the scoreboard, but still provided plenty of suspense.
Goalkeeper Evan Widrick made six saves, including several clutch stops in the second half, as South Jefferson blanked Lowville, 2-0, on Saturday in Frontier League “B” Division game.
Thomas King and Nolan Widrick each scored a goal in the first half for South Jefferson, which improved to 8-1-1, including 6-0-1 league.
“Usually it’s a big rivalry between us and Lowville, so we prepare for them,” Evan Widrick said. “We prepare for all the teams, but this one has a little extra to it.”
The Spartans are now on the cusp of clinching the division championship, needing one more point.
“It feels, good especially for our senior Thomas and a lot of the younger guys, it’s their first time through,” said Evan Widrick, a junior, “and hopefully many more to come.”
“You can always expect Lowville is going to bring our their best against you, it’s one of those fun rivalries,” South Jefferson coach Trevor Perry said. “Because both teams play hard and we finished more than they did.”
In the previous meeting, the Spartans edged the Red Raiders, 2-1, in double overtime Sept. 14.
“It feels great, we really worked hard to get here and we weren’t happy with our overtime win, it wasn’t a great win in our books,” King said. “So we worked hard and we were ready for today and we came out intense. We just showed up and outworked them.”
Seizing the early initiative this time around, South Jefferson struck first on a rush down the field as King finished off a crossing pass from Alessandro Boroni in the game’s 16th minute.
“With Alessandro, it was a great run up the line,” King, a junior defender, said of the goal. “I just came right in, bodied my way through it and got it right off the top of my foot.”
Nolan Widrick, a junior forward, provided the Spartans with their 2-0 lead as he knocked in a rebound in close in the 20th minute, with James King assisting on the goal.
“We’re just aggressively challenging towards the goal,” Perry said. “We are not a finesse goal-scoring team, we’re a clean up the mess, get in there and fight for it. We’re kind of gritty.”
Then it was Evan Widrick’s time to shine as he made two crucial saves within the span of a minute, reaching up high to knock the ball away both times, denying Lowville’s Jeremie Lehmann’s bid on a direct kick on the second shot of the sequence.
“Evan Widrick had two amazing saves in the second half that I think against any other goalie in the league that ball is in,” Lowville coach Nick Matuszczak said. “He kept them in the game.”
“Evan is outstanding, in my opinion he’s probably the best goalie in upstate New York,” Perry said. “He works hard, he really plays at a high level.”
Evan Widrick would later deny Lehmann’s drive at the right goal post midway through the half.
“The way we play defense is we play very offensively, and every chance we get we just push up and keep them up there,” Thomas King said. “We usually only keep like one person behind most of the time, so we’re very offensive minded overall as a team.”
“We were a little slow to start the first half,” Matuszczak said. “I think after halftime we came out with a lot more energy and put more pressure on them.
South Jefferson earned its fifth shutout of the season.
“It felt good, the defense did great playing against that pressure towards the end,” Evan Widrick said. “All the backs, the whole team, we just stuck together very well, the team played great for the shutout.”
Senior goalie Colton Young finished with 10 saves to lead Lowville (5-3, 3-3), keeping his team in the game.
“We have a couple kids out with injuries and quarantine, so we had to shift some bodies around today and sort of plug some holes,” Matuszczak said. “And you get caught sometimes, with people out of position trying to cover positions they’re not used to and they got a couple in quick on us.”
South Jefferson, which last won the division title in 2018, will look to remain unbeaten in the league when they host “A” Division leader Watertown at 6:30 p.m. Monday.
“We’re off to a great start,” Perry said. “With the progression, we’re going into the hardest part of our season now.”
“They’re probably one of the best teams we will see this year,” Matuszczak added about South Jefferson. “It was reassuring at least for the boys that we can play with them, we had our chances, we just have to keep that focus going forward.”