— After nearly three weeks of non-competitive action, Peru is hoping their long break and preparation will pay off.
Both the boys and girls will head to Potsdam today to face Section X champion Franklin Academy. As the only Class A school in Section VII, the Indians automatically moved on to the state tournament, as long as they finished with a winning record.
BoysPeru (9-4-2) vs.Franklin Academy (9-6-1)Potsdam Central School,6:45 p.m.
Peru has already beaten the Huskies this season, 2-1, however, Indians coach Matt Armstrong is not expecting the same team his squad defeated in early September.
“I had the sense both teams were just getting ready for the season and were each figuring out what the teams makeup was about,” Armstrong said. “Both teams played with aggressiveness, but we were able to score one more goal than them.”
With its victory over Franklin Academy, Peru finished its season 9-4-2. Peru’s last competitive game was October 16, an 8-0 rout of AuSable Valley.
The Indians leading scorers this season have been seniors Ian Spear and Jacob Dick with 10 and nine goals, respectively.
Along with Spear and Dick, Armstrong mentioned junior Jonathan Plessis-Belair will be needed to step up and be a major factor in today’s matchup.
“I expect (Spear and Dick) to assert themselves in the game; they are both four-year varsity players and have played in the playoffs before,” Armstrong said. “I also expect Jonathan to be ready to play (today). He’s had sharp practices and is very focused.”
With the long layoff, Armstrong and his squad have been trying to stay “fresh” and have worked on “playing cohesively as a team.” He mentioned he would like to improve a few things from the regular season as well.
“There’s a lot of things you want to see get better,” Armstrong said. “We need to share the ball a little bit more, play the ball to the outside of the field, involve our crossing game a bit more and getting used to playing team defense.”
Peru’s defense will be led behind senior keeper Guy Loveless. Loveless has totaled 109 saves this season, including 17 saves during their first matchup against the Huskies.
As for Franklin Academy, its attack is led by Kody Mulverhill, who finished the season with 12 goals and three assists.
“They had a strong player up top (Mulverhill). He’s someone to be conscious of, and we can’t let get too free,” Armstrong said. “But we have a lot of speed on offense and we have a couple players up top that can finish.”
After nearly three weeks of practice and exhibition games, Armstrong made sure to get his teams focused for today’s match and reiterated to his squad not to let the moment become too big.
“(I told them) to play the full 80 minutes and play with aggressiveness and intensity,” Armstrong said. “(I told them to) go out there and play the game rather than to think too much about circumstances.”
GirlsPeru (6-7-1) vs.Franklin Academy (12-4-1)Potsdam Central School, 4:45 p.m.
Lindsey Bushey leads Peru in goals this season with 14 while also accumulating seven assists on the year. Rachel Sheldrick is next in line for goals scores with eight.
Peru coach Tom Harrigan mentioned Bushey’s and Sheldrick’s offensive abilities as an advantage heading into today’s game.
“Conditionally, we’re in pretty good shape and we do have some ballplayers like Lindsey Bushey and Rachel Sheldrick,” Harrigan said. “They’ve got pretty hard shots.”
Although Harrigan believes he has a slight advantage over his adversary, he expects a tough match with the Huskies.
“They have pretty fast strikers and I also heard they have a very fast sweeper,” Harrigan said. “We’ve set the team down and talked about what to expect with their speed, and the couple of strikers they do have.”
Abigail Collins and Gabrielle Collins are the Huskies leading scorers. Abigail Collins finished with nine goals and seven assists this season, while Gabrielle Collins finished with seven goals and five assists.
Harrigan has tried to prepare for the Collins’ speed and ability to penetrate through the middle.
“We’ve discussed keeping the middle closed down,” Harrigan said. “Anna Hogan in the back will have a tough day (today) with the speed of Malone and will be one of our key players on defense.”
Hogan and the rest of the Indians’ defense will have to play even better today, as they are playing without their usual keeper in goal. Instead, Kara Barber, usually at right halfback for Peru, will be in net.
“We just recently found out our goalie can’t play, so the last couple days we’ve been taking some shots on (Barber),” Armstrong said. “She’s a pretty talented athlete. We try to encourage her just do the best she can do, and to be conservative and stay back in the net.”
Bailee Young is in net for the Huskies and has nine shutouts thus far this season.