Soccer: Lions, Knights happy to be back on dry ground

Considering what they’ve had to endure the past six weeks, the Mekeel Christian Academy and Middlebu

Considering what they’ve had to endure the past six weeks, the Mekeel Christian Academy and Middleburgh boys’ soccer teams are just glad to be playing.

Both Western Athletic Conference teams were turned into road warriors for the first half of the season, among the teams whose playing fields were rendered useless by the flooding that followed Tropical Storm Irene in late August.

“Considering everything they’ve been through, for them to come out and play as hard as they did today says a lot about those kids,” said MCA coach Andrew Lehning of Middleburgh’s effort in a 4-3 loss to the Lions on Friday. “We couldn’t use our home field [Maalwyck Park] for a few weeks. Those kids have been through much worse, with the flooding they had.”

“It was tough at the beginning of the season,” said Middleburgh coach Gregg Johns, whose team lost three one-goals leads in Friday’s game. “We were fortunate that we could play on our club field. So many teams in our league — us, Mekeel, Schoharie, Berne-Knox-Westerlo — had to deal with this. We’re just now getting to where we’re playing regularly.

“Today I was happy with the 80-minute effort we put in. That’s an improvement over how we’ve been playing.”

Junior Tai Aderounmu, who scored three of Mekeel’s goals, said he and his teammates are also settling in after having to play away games for the first three weeks of the season.

“It’s nice to have home games,” he said. “We were going to different places to practice and had to play at the other teams’ fields, but we made the best of it.”

“Some days, we’d get to school and not know where we would be practicing that afternoon,” said Kenny Aderounmu, the team’s central defender. “We went to Rotterdam, Scotia, practiced in our gym. The parents were great, making sure we had rides to wherever we had to go. But everything that happened helped us be closer as a team.”

“We were practicing at the Rotterdam Soccer Club fields for a while,” said Lehning. “They were great to us. And we were using a field at one of the elementary schools in Scotia, but when school started, they needed it for their JV team.

“Everybody was helpful, and the parents were really great about making sure all of the kids got to where they had to be.”

The Lions players helped with some of the repairs at Maalwyck Park, which sits in a low spot between the Mohawk River and Route 5. MCA uses the field farthest from the river, but it didn’t matter, when the Mohawk overran its banks.

“The water was all the way back here,” said Kenny Aderounmu, as he stood near his team’s bench and swatted at a persistent swarm of mosquitoes, another reminder of the flooding. “You can still see where the water was.”

The play of the Aderounmus and first-year starter T.K. Majekdounmi in midfield has helped the Lions to a 7-3-0 record as they fight with Schoharie and Middleburgh for the top spot in the WAC’s South Division.

“Those two are so dangerous, you have to be aware of where they are every minute of the game,” said Johns of the Aderounmus. “They are players who make a difference.”

“They’ve been great, but this year, we have more players who can play with them,” said Lehning. “Teams can’t mark only Tai.”

Freshman Nick Righi gave the 3-5-2 Knights the first lead of the game, and Jon Zapata put the vis­itors up by 2-1 and 3-2 scores before the Lions roared back.

“The first goal was a great goal,” said Johns. “Then we made some mistakes, and they took advantage.”

“It was good that we kept coming back,” said Tai Aderounmu.

Categories: High School Sports

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