GRAY — Visitors Leavitt never found the back of the Patriots’ net on Saturday night, Oct. 26, so when Austin LaLiberty zoomed up the left side of the field on the attack, then crossed the ball for teammate Josh Michaud – when Michaud fired that ball past Hornets netminder Blaine Clark and made it 1-0, well, at that point, Gray-New Gloucester were good to go.

“I saw Josh on the back line, so I beat the last defender and I really tried to get it to him on the back post,” LaLiberty said of the goal.

The game settled out at 3-0, as the No. 8 Patriots offed their nine-seed guests. G-NG moved to 8-5-2 on the autumn, and advanced through the tournament prelims to Wednesday night, Oct. 30’s quarterfinals round.

“I was pleased with the way we played,” G-NG Head Coach Kyle Fletcher said of Saturday’s contest. “Leavitt played hard; good squad. They work really hard off the ball, and made it tough for us.”

In a shutout triumph, the winning team’s defense is probably playing well. Fletcher applauded his back line, but singled out Jacob MacCallum for special praise on the night:

“It’s a little bit of everyone,” Fletcher said. “But if I had to pick one player, Jake MacCallum, he’s been really solid for us all year. Big body, wins everything in the air, communicates really well. He’s kind of like the quarterback of our defense.”


The Patriots and the Hornets didn’t tangle in the regular season.

“I don’t think we played any common opponents, either,” Fletcher said.

“I talked to a couple coaches I know who played them,” he said, when asked if his squad scouted Leavitt at all. “They had a couple game films, so I saw a little with that. Obviously, it’s a little different watching game film than it is live. I think we had a decent preview of what they were going to bring to the table.”

LaLiberty and Michaud combo-ed up for their goal around five minutes into the first half, and nobody could have asked for a prettier strike. LaLiberty’s nimble run up the left carried him past multiple defenders and his crisp feed center-ward found its mark precisely. Michaud redirected without hesitation and Clark, honestly, stood little chance of making the save.

“Great goal,” Fletcher said. “Awesome work on the left from Austin, and then cut it back. Josh was in the right place at the right time. He’s been doing that all year; he’s been great for us. But the hard work from Austin to get to that situation was unbelievable.”

Moving the ball that well has not come so easily to the Patriots this entire season.


“First game was against Freeport; we lost like 6-0,” LaLiberty said. “It was pretty bad. We couldn’t really complete more than one or two passes. I feel like we’ve really improved.”

Through much of the rest of the half – contrary to initial appearances – play actually see-sawed from one end to the other, or lodged at midfield. G-NG held the edge, sure: They defended well, saving keeper Bradan Craig from facing all that many shots, and when they attacked, penetrated a bit better.

“We’ve been solid all year defensively, apart from one or two games,” Fletcher said. “I don’t think (Leavitt) pressured us a lot; they’re tough to break down, which can be frustrating at times. But I think our guys were really patient and kept trusting the process, as cliché as that sounds.”

As the minutes elapsed, the Patriots seized further control. MacCallum launched a nice direct kick from roughly 35 yards around 19:40 – a DK that hit the Leavitt crossbar. But the Patriots wouldn’t capitalize again until the second half.

When G-NG did ratchet the scoreboard ahead to 2-0, Hunter Brown earned the notch. Brown scored on a rebound with, give or take, 25 minutes left to play.

“It’s been pretty balanced scoring this year,” Fletcher said, “and we saw it again tonight. Josh has been our go-to goal-scorer, but it’s been really relieving that if he’s not having a great day, someone else can step up and put one in the back of the net.”


The Hornets’ opportunities to sting their hosts came few and far between. Leavitt picked up a corner kick at 36:30, but their man served the ball long; around 16 minutes, they hashed a couple shots Craig grabbed readily. They logged another corner at 8:40, but again failed to capitalize.

LaLiberty capped G-NG’s evening, knocking home 3-0 from the left side.

“The last defender was a little off-balance,” LaLiberty said. “And I saw the ball was going to go in, so I kept running and it got to me and I chipped it in.”

“Probably just their center-backs,” LaLiberty said, when asked what sort of tough looks Leavitt presented. “I thought their outside-backs were a little weak. That’s where my strong point is, on the outside.”

“We’ve been trying to play our game all year,” Fletcher said. “And against a team that defends like (Leavitt does), it’s tough, because they’re tough to break down. The biggest thing we talked about, the week building up to this game, was, ‘Even if it’s not working early, keep trusting the process.’”

Fletcher fleshed out the G-NG process a little: “We like to play direct,” he said, “and [Leavitt] did a really good job defending out of the air. That kind of combatted (us) a little bit. But – just keep going, and regardless of the scoreline, keep working hard.”

“Mindset,” LaLiberty said, when asked what’s changed for the Patriots this year. “After we tied Yarmouth, the best team, we feel like we can do anything.”

G-NG rematches No. 1 Yarmouth in the quarters on Wednesday night. That’s Halloween Eve, but the Patriots aren’t scared.

“We’re pretty confident,” LaLiberty said. “If we tied them, we can beat them.”

Wyatt Kenney clashes with a Hornet in pursuit of a high-flying ball. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

Jacob MacCallum unwinds into a kick. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

Andrew LaCerda barrels along the sideline for G-NG,. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

Nick Pelletier elevates over a Leavitt opponent. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

Logan True shovels forward. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

Tristan Fogg heads a ball away for G-NG. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

G-NG netminder Braden Craig slides in front of an incoming ball. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

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