MONMOUTH — The Winthrop boys soccer team played to a 3-3 tie with rival Monmouth Academy on Friday.

But for the Ramblers, that game, and the few contests they will get to scrape together this season, are already a win for the program.

Friday was Winthrop’s first game of what is already a condensed, patch-work regular season, thanks to COVID-19. There is also no chance at a playoff run, or hoisting a Gold Ball. It was the third attempt the Ramblers have tried to play a game this season, as inclement weather disrupted the first attempts.

“We’ve got Hall-Dale next Saturday, then Oak Hill the 21st and the 26th, and then we’re done (for the season),” Winthrop head coach John Baehr said. “We were going to try to pick up (Monmouth) for one more game at our place, and they had too many games (booked). We got postponed last Friday, got postponed Wednesday, so we’ve been itching a little bit. But I’m glad the boys gave a good game to watch.”

“It’s really big (to play),” Winthrop senior Noah Grube said. “I really didn’t get to play much last year, I had an injury. Then this year was looking a little skeptical if we’d have a season or if we’d be doing anything. We just got in what we could, and we’re happy with whatever we can get. Anything past this is just a bonus now.”

For Monmouth, their season goal is keeping the strength of the program going. The Mustangs will lose four seniors from the 2020 squad, but have a strong junior class, and plenty of depth from sophomores and freshmen.

“We’re just trying to get better,” Monmouth junior Hayden Fletcher said. “We’re just trying to be one of the top programs around. Every day, we’re going to work hard, no matter if there’s playoffs, no playoffs. Doesn’t matter to us, we’re just going to go out there, play soccer and have fun, obviously, and play for each other.”

The Ramblers made the most of the chance against the neighboring Mustangs. Winthrop shot ahead to a 2-0 lead in the first half, tallied by scores from Rowan Goebel-Smith (on a penalty kick) and Garrison Melendy (on a header off a corner kick). Monmouth woke up and turned the tide before halftime, netting two goals from Fletcher, including a finish off a beautiful touch pass from Kyle Palleschi, to tie the game 2-2.

“I feel really confident (with the ball),” Fletcher said. “My teammates feel confident with me with the ball. I just try to make something happen for them, or get a good shot off, or a rebound is nice. Just trying to help the team.”

It looked as if Monmouth might run away with the match early in the second half, when Travis Jamison snuck a shot into the corner of the net to give the Mustangs a 3-2 lead. But with just under 14 minutes to play, Grube booted a shot from about 25 yards away, sailing into the net for the 3-3 score.

“I don’t know if it was a clean shot, but I knew I had to get rid (of the ball) somehow,” Grube said. “Keeper was blocked a little, I got a little lucky. But a goal is a goal, can’t be too upset about that.”

Neither team could gain in inch in overtime, leading both squads content to walk away with the tie.

“It’s always tough against Monmouth,” Baehr said. “This is the first time this program has had some success against Monmouth. Last year, we got depleted with injuries. To come out the way that we did, and then fight back after letting up three goals. And playing our brand. We’ve had the reputation in the past of playing long ball. These seniors are buying in, and are really making the sophomores and freshmen (better).”


Dave Dyer – 621-5610

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Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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