Lambritsios finds his sweet spot up front for Marple Newtown

NETHER PROVIDENCE >> For most of the first half Tuesday, Marple Newtown coach Charlie Dodds exhorted George Lambritsios to live out the “center” portion of his center forward position.

The All-Delco, quintessential No. 9 was following the action, drifting from the spaces between center backs and gravitating toward the ball as it often found Hunter Dyson’s left wing, instead of representing a passing outlet to attack the center of Strath Haven’s defense.

Midway through the half, Lambritsios got the message. And what followed should’ve come as no surprise to anyone who saw the forward tally one of the Central League’s most prolific goal totals last year.

Lambritsios recorded a hat trick, including two goals in 29 seconds in the first, to lead Marple Newtown to a 3-2, Central League win.

The breakthrough was the product of nudging, gentle and otherwise, from Dodds to push Lambritsios away from the left wing. Once he did that in the 32nd minute, he created the space and angle to collect a pass between the center backs, take a couple of touches to get around the right edge of the Strath Haven defense and gallop with a pair of powerful strides before a thundering right-footed shot bulged the back of the net.

Marple Newtown's Hunter Dyson, right, and Strath Haven's Alexander Tinter fight for a header Tuesday. Marple scored a 3-2 Central League win. (Times Staff/Tom Kelly IV)
Marple Newtown’s Hunter Dyson, right, and Strath Haven’s Alexander Tinter fight for a header Tuesday. Marple scored a 3-2 Central League win. (Times Staff/Tom Kelly IV)

“At the beginning of the game, I was mostly playing out wide to help Hunter out,” Lambritsios said. “And I realized that I was taking most of his space away. He’s a great dribbler. I finally pushed in, he took that space and he helped me out to get the goals.”

Sooner than you can say, “told ya so,” Lambritsios bagged a second. This time, Kostas Silkas gobbled up the space down the left wing, got to the byline and crossed a pass that Lambritsios one-touched into the roof of the net from the edge of the six-yard box. That, too, was assisted by a little of Dodds’ wisdom.

“My coach always says, after we get the first one, in the next five minutes, we’ve got to get the next one,” Lambritsios said. “And that starts to shut teams down. I kind of kept that in my mind and got that.”

Lambritsios put the finishing touches on what could’ve been an easy win midway through the second half, when Silkas was dragged down in the box. Lambritsios’ spot kick was superbly denied by Dixon Damico diving at a full stretch to his right, but the ball bounded right to Lambritsios, who calmly slotted it home ahead of onrushing defenders.

The lag for the Tigers in creating chances and finishing them was due to the usual early-season hiccups. But when the pieces came together, working through Dyson, Silkas and Lambritsios, it’s clear just how lethal they can be.

Equally evident for Marple (4-0, 1-0), though, were some of the wrinkles that the Tigers must iron out if they want to accomplish the lofty goals they’ve set for themselves.

Things got unnecessarily tight late in the game thanks to a pair of Evan Savoth goals for Strath Haven (2-2, 1-1). The first, from the penalty spot, resulted from a week handball call in the box on Gianmichael Allodoli. The final tally, with just over two minutes to play, was a thing of beauty, the lanky Savoth nodding home a headed pass from Alexander Belanger off a long Alexander Maillet free kick.

“It is huge for me that we were able to come back,” Savoth said. “This is one of the best teams in the Central League, and we came back to 3-2. I’m upset and we wanted to win, but I’m happy overall.”

For the Tigers, Tuesday’s opening foray into the Central League illustrates plenty. It’s, first and foremost, a sizeable road win, but the late-game letdowns paint a cautionary tale for the games that lie ahead.

“It definitely boosts us,” defender Michael Levengood said. “We’ve got a tough two weeks ahead of us, but we have to take it one game at a time. But it definitely shows us that we can compete with the best teams and we can really do well in this league.”

Marple Newtown goalkeeper Josh Lessig makes a diving save in the first half of Marple's 3-2 win over Strath Haven Tuesday. (Times Staff/Tom Kelly IV)
Marple Newtown goalkeeper Josh Lessig makes a diving save in the first half of Marple’s 3-2 win over Strath Haven Tuesday. (Times Staff/Tom Kelly IV)
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply