STANDISH—The Scots dropped a heartbreaking season-opener to Thornton Academy at home on Saturday morning, Sept 7: In a chippy game that saw half a dozen yellow cards fly, Bonny Eagle fell to the Trojans on a successful penalty kick by Alec McAlary.

“I thought we became disconnected after the penalty kick,” said Bonny Eagle head coach Hayes Sweeney. “We resorted to more of a boot-and-run style, which I hate, and stopped possessing it.”

Play rolled up and down the field for both halves, and both teams generated chances. But neither could convert – which means the action grew tighter and tighter as the minutes elapsed. It didn’t alleviate any tension that Bonny Eagle pulled two yellow cards in the uphill 40 minutes. When the break, the scoreboard still read 0-0.

Bonny Eagle’s Nate Chamberland settles the ball. Adam Birt / American Journal

Scot Cam MacDonald turned in a close call three minutes into the second half, dashing up the left side and firing across, only to see the ball roll just wide right.

Sweeney took a moment to applaud a few of his boys, including MacDonald. “Cam up front,” he said without hesitation, asked who played well. “Hayes (Sweeney, the younger) and Jeffrey (Painchaud) in the midfield. And Owen Harmon and Ethan Pike in the back played super-well.”

TA stabbed upfield two minutes later, but Bonny Eagler Nate Chamberland slickly slide-tackled the Trojans ball-handler and interrupted the play.

“I thought we ran them pretty well,” Sweeney said of TA. “I thought we kept up – even took it to them for the majority of the game. Obviously it doesn’t show on the scoreboard, but we tried.”

With 22:55 to go, the Scots’ Ben Sullivan logged another nice shot for the team: Sullivan fired from the outside-left; TA keeper Nick Lea, though, leaped and tipped the ball over the crossbar – mere inches, maybe a foot over it.

At 18:50, one side broke the deadlock – the Trojans did, on McAlary’s PK, awarded for a piece of contact in the corner the officials took issue with.

Scot Cam MacDonald and Trojan Cam Cote go shoulder-to-shoulder. Adam Birt / American Journal

“It took momentum away from us,” Sweeney said of the PK. “And we were a little bit disconnected from the back to the front today to start with. If we can fix that, we’ll be in good shape.”

Now, it thoroughly dissatisfied (and not without reason, maybe) the BE fan contingent for their goalie, Ben Atkinson, to face McAlary one-on-one. And it dissatisfied them more when a TA player contacted a Scot at the other end of the field. The hit certainly looked similar, at least at first glance, to the one that handed McAlary his point.

“I’ve got a young team,” Sweeney said. “They haven’t learned how to handle that adversity yet. With someone leaning on you, they lash out, they want the call.”

It dissatisfied the Bonny Eagle stands still further when their man wasn’t awarded his own PK. The game only grew more physical after that, and the squads more frustrated. Perhaps BE was the more frustrated outfit of the two, because they pulled three more yellow cards (to TA’s one) as time wound down.

“We like to play a lot of pressure,” Sweeney said. “That’s kind of our style. It just never worked…I wasn’t overly disappointed in the type of play we had; it was more the outcome – not the outcome, but how the boys responded to being down.”

The Scots did churn up more chances. Chamberland, following a mistaken offsides call (one decidedly good reason for BE to feel frustrated), set up a beautiful ball from way out. TA’s defense clamped down on the play, though – choked it off.

Devin Maynard heads a ball for the Scots. Adam Birt / American Journal

In the waning minutes, Bonny Eagle cranked up their pressure another notch. Harmon turned a nice steal for the Scots, and Andrew Turnage came within a hair’s breadth of tying the score. Turnage clashed with Lea, but Lea emerged with control.

“We tried to overload the offensive zone,” Sweeney said of his boys’ late-game efforts. “We played with three in the back, and loaded the midfield and front with four on each line. It just didn’t come to fruition.”

Bonny Eagle slipped on the loss to 0-1. The Scot hosted Sanford on Tuesday, Sept. 10; they travel to Massabesic on Friday the 13th.

Ryan White unwinds into a centering kick. Adam Birt / American Journal

Bonny Eagler Hayes Sweeney battles Thornton opponent Ronan Flynn. Adam Birt / American Journal

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