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Week 4: Woodstock Academy splits first 2 GESP league matches

The Woodstock Academy prep soccer team played its first Global Education Sports Partners League match and posted a 4-0 shutout victory over St. Thomas More Tuesday at the Bentley Athletic Complex.

For the players, it meant a little more than just a win on the field.

“It feels better because you are competing for something,” said midfielder Pol Saiz.

It’s the first year for the league which also includes Putnam Science Academy, Hoosac (N.Y.) and Pathfinder FC soccer programs.

While the players were happy to pick up a league win, coach Joe Cherackel was more excited about how the Centaurs went about the task on the pitch.

“Regardless of the results, they are trying to do what is asked and that’s all you can ask. I’m very happy with what they are doing. I’m excited for the games ahead,” Cherackel said.

It wasn’t easy.

The two sides played to a scoreless draw in the first half.

So, Cherackel opted to have his Centaurs look downfield a bit more in the second half.

“I was really happy with their implementation of the tactics going into the second half. They did what was asked. They tried a bigger ball at the right time,” Cherackel said.

Woodstock Academy didn’t wait long to try the new idea.

Just 7 minutes, 27 seconds into the second half, Jaume Sanahuja sent a ball over the top which found the foot of Jordi Sanabra.

“I started to sprint, got there, hit it with my head and I finished. It was a really good goal,” Sanabra, a native of Spain, said. “We didn’t play all that good in the first half so we just started taking chances in the second half and we played really well.”

Just 7 ½ minutes later, Manuel Marquez made it 2-0 and that opened the floodgates for Woodstock Academy.

“It was us trying to play simple at the start, as we had asked them to do, but then we realized there were spaces behind (St. Thomas More) so we tried to play in behind and what we had was a couple of goals that broke the ice,” Cherackel said.

Saiz and Rodrigo Minguela both scored in the final 14 minutes of the match for the Centaurs.

Saiz, also from Spain, controlled the midfield for the Centaurs.

“Over the past few games, Pol has played up to his potential. He is a high-level, Division I player in my mind. That’s up to coaches at the next level to decide but he’s been dictating play and without that, we would not be where we are right now,”Cherackel said.

Cherackel was also happy with the shutout pitched by his two keepers, Sten Lehmann (4 saves in the first half) and Mario Alvarez (3 saves in the second).

“Getting four goals and not conceding one; goal differential matters in leagues. I was happiest not to concede a goal but to get four makes our job easier later on in the season if it does come down to goal differential,” the Woodstock Academy coach said.

Sanabra and Saiz both have a unique perspective on the team as both played in the Centaurs inaugural season a year ago.

“This year, this team is so compact, like joined. We are a team on and off the field which is beautiful because we’re doing everything as a team,” Sanabra said.

The Centaurs did see their league record fall to 1-1 on Thursday and 4-2-2 overall with a 3-1 loss to Putnam Science Academy at Bentley.

Juanjo Menendez scored the only goal of the match for the Centaurs with 1 minute, 54 seconds left in regulation.