NEWPORT–An ugly first half that saw the undefeated Essex Hornets put a four spot on the board set the stage for a 5-1 win over the Falcons in boys soccer action on Friday.
"In this game we learned what works for us as a team," said head coach James McKenny.
And perhaps what doesn't, as things did not get off to a good start at all. Essex was issued a penalty kick early in the game, and while waiting for said kick to take place, NC netminder Logan Fortier was issued a yellow card for taunting the Hornets' Said Gosto.
Fortier would be taken off the field, and Chris Bronson would sub into the net and get beat on the kick.
Later in the half Fortier would win a race to the loose ball, and instead of pulling back, dipped his shoulder into the charging Essex player resulting in his second yellow card, being ejected from the game, and now having to sit out the next North Country game, which is Tuesday at Burlington.
Gosto and Justin Beauchemin would each tally 2 goals in the half.
North Country would be forced to head across Veterans Ave. and grab J/V netminder Ryan Paul to fill in.
"I was a little nervous to begin with," said Paul, "after that it got better."
"It was one of the few high moments of the game," said McKenny, "Ryan comes across the field, his first varsity appearance, gets in there makes a couple great saves, and we are very fortunate to have a back up keeper who can contribute."
The other highlights of the game came from two defenders, Josh Brien and Cody Simoneau. The pair were there time and time again, getting in front of shots, clearing loose balls, and really being there for their young netminder in the second half.
"Josh and Cody played a full 80 minutes. Without those two it could get real ugly, it was ugly, but it could have been worse.
"Cody knows how to play defense, he reads the play well and his anticipation is excellent, and Josh is Mr. Hustle. He doesn't give up, he goes for everything, and you couldn't ask for (a) better two defenseman back there," said McKenny.
North Country was able to get on the board in the second half as Dylan Colombia ended the Hornets shut out streak in Essex's fourth game.
North Country will now take on Burlington with Paul in net this Tuesday on the road. Game is slated for a 4:30 start.