FULTON — Led by Ridwan Sirad’s hat trick, the Fowler varsity boys soccer team handed Fulton a 3-2 loss on a rainy and cold Thursday evening.
Weather aside, Fulton head coach Nate Murray didn’t want to use it as an excuse for the way his team played against the Falcons.
“It was a sloppy game for us,” he said. “Our work rate was high, which was good. We just didn’t connect on enough passes. We couldn’t possess it.”
Despite allowing three goals in the net, Raiders goalkeeper Dalton Hines put together a valiant effort with diving stops and fingertip saves.
Murray had nothing but praise for Hines, who has come into his own in his first full season at the varsity level for Fulton.
“Dalton had a great game. He’s been doing a real good job,” he said. “He’s becoming more and more confident, and he’s young (sophomore). He was very nervous to step into this role at this level. It’s taking a little time to get his feet underneath him, but he’s been solid for us.”
Hines tabbed some early-game heroics for the Raiders, which included a blocked penalty kick attempt from the Falcons at 31:34 in the first half. Fowler was applying pressure, but continued getting stifled by Hines and the Fulton defense.
Fulton didn’t have as many shot opportunities as compared to Fowler’s tally. But at 28:33 in the first half, the Raiders cashed in on a chance when Mark Tallents handled the ball, darted past a flock of Falcon defenders and tapped the ball past Fowler goalie Kyaw Pong on the right side of the goal.
The Raiders cracked the scoreboard and took a 1-0 lead.
“(Mark is) a spark and a great motor,” Murray said. “That kid just runs so hard and constantly going. He makes stuff happen.”
The rest of the first half was quiet for the most part, and Hines continued to rack up quality saves for Fulton.
Inside the five-minute mark of the first half, Fowler began to build strong possessions. Then at 1:56, Sirad netted his first goal of the game to tie the score at 1-1.
Sirad struck again at 35:06 in the second half when he found the back of the net for his second goal, giving the Falcons a 2-1 lead.
A decent chunk of the second half hit a lull with both teams trading possessions. Fulton struggled to find an open shot, but Hines was in a stride.
Under the 19-minute mark, Fulton was called for a foul. Sirad took the penalty kick and zipped a shot out of the reach of Hines. Sirad’s third and final goal of the night made it 3-1 Fowler.
Murray noticed his team had trouble keeping up with the endurance of the Falcons, who were fast, on the ball and making timely decisions.
“They’re quick,” he said. “The first step on the ball against our backs is just too quick to handle. We’re not quick enough to move with them laterally. They’re tough to beat. They don’t lose an awful lot of balls. It makes them dangerous.”
Sam Cary notched a goal with 1:40 left off of a feed from Tallents, slicing the deficit to one goal. Fowler, however, kept the Raiders in check and ran out the clock.
The Raiders are at Central Square Saturday as they take on the Redhawks in a matchup that begins at 3 p.m.
Fulton will practice today in preparation for the Hawks. Murray plans to use the time to analyze his team with the season coming toward the end.
“(It’s) to be determined,” he said. “Our possession struggled tonight and there’s a multitude of factors. I feel like our legs are a bit heavy and we’ve been tripping up. At this point, though, I’m not sure if it’s that or just rest.”