The Cottage School Cougars got back into the win column on Tuesday with a 4-3 conference win over Atlanta Area School for the Deaf. As always, AASD proved to be a tough foe, but in the end the Cougars were able to hold on for a crucial AAC victory.

Tuesday’s contest was played as a 7 vs 7 matchup in the blistering heat. Despite having a deep bench, the Cougars were utterly exhausted by the end of the game. Reese Silverman, Tim Mattioli, Dalton Lantz, and Shane Hendrickson led the attack early on. With only 6 outfield players and a goalie on the field, the game was wide open and stretched throughout. Both teams struggled to settle into a passing rhythm, and the early proceedings produced few scoring chances. Toby Nwokedi and DJ Donaldson were solid in defense, but AASD was still able to slip through the Cougar backline a few times in the first half. Goalie Aidan Briggs was quick off his line, as usual, and he kept the Panthers scoreless. Late in the first half, Shane Hendrickson rolled a free kick into the path of Tim Mattioli who smashed home the opening goal of the game. At halftime, the Cougars led 1-0.

In the second half, the Cougar bench played a large role in securing the victory. Mitchell Starks, Jaier Cremer, Alex Yager, and Bryce Dickerson tested the Panthers’ back line on offense. Paul Altermatt nearly beat the offside trap on several occasions to slip through and score. Liam Walsh, Mac DeBalsi, Colton Parks, and Maria Knezek put forth tremendous effort running up and down the wings. Schuyler Nebel and Nick Rice were omnipresent in the midfield. Dustin Bertolome-Behrens, Emma Altermatt, and Kyle Kimble played tenacious defense and frustrated the Panthers’ attack.

As AASD began to tire, the Cougars built a comfortable lead. Tim Mattioli netted his second goal of the game after a long, mazy run through the midfield. Shortly thereafter, Shane Hendrickson scored on a perfectly placed shot from the outside of the box to the far corner of the net. Not to be outdone, Tim Mattioli carried the ball from defense to attack and finished with a low shot past the keeper to complete his hat trick. The Cougars were cruising with a 4-0 lead entering the final few minutes. Late defensive lapses from the Cougars nearly cost them dearly. The Panthers pounced on these errors, netting 3 goals in the final 6 minutes of the game. Fortunately, the Cougars maintained their composure enough to secure the victory, and the late Panther charge proved to be just barely insufficient.

The Cougars now look to Thursday, where a trip to Mill Springs and a possible AAC playoff preview awaits them. Only 3 regular season games remain for the Cougars to fine tune their passing and prepare for the playoffs!