Conference matches take toll on NSA

Published 10:06 pm Saturday, October 8, 2011

Defender: Nansemond-Suffolk defender Travis Brothers clears a Peninsula Catholic shot on goal from near NSA’s goal line during a Tidewater Conference match Thursday afternoon at NSA. Peninsula Catholic gave the Saints (3-4-3, 1-1-1) their first TCIS loss with a 2-0 result.

A couple weeks ago, ahead of Tidewater Conference play getting under way for his Saint soccer squad, head coach Art Truesdell knew the main challenge ahead was dealing with fatigue and attrition.

Truesdell had only 14 players ready for action on Thursday when Nansemond-Suffolk fell 2-0 to visiting Peninsula Catholic, then had to play on back-to-back days and their third conference contest in four days on Friday and wound up with a 5-2 loss at Hampton Roads.

The week started well for the Saints with a 2-1 win at Walsingham. NSA’s first conference win was followed with the two setbacks, though, dropping the Saints to 3-5-3 overall and 1-2-1 in the TCIS.

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The Knights played with nice possession and put pressure on the Saints right away in Thursday’s game at NSA.

Peninsula Catholic scored in the 19th and 25th minutes to get the 2-0 margin it held through the last 55 minutes.

NSA stepped its game up in stretches of the second half. The combination of center midfielder Matt Atienza and forward Preston Firnstahl created a few threats on the Knight penalty box. The Saints couldn’t keep scoring chances coming against the Knights, who were fine defending with nine or 10 organized players once they had the two-goal lead.

The Knights forced NSA keeper Zach Edwards into seven saves. NSA managed only two shots in the match.

Preston and Tucker Firnstahl scored a goal each in NSA’s match 24 hours later at Hampton Roads.

The Saints, with a little time to recuperate, continue conference play on Tuesday with a trip to Bishop Sullivan. The Saints and Crusaders drew 1-1 at NSA in September.