Aroke, Atemkeng lead Tanners past Magicians

Jonathan Alves (left), who scored a goal for the Tanners, and Jake Miller vie for the ball. (Item Photo by Owen O'Rourke)

MARBLEHEAD — Kevin Aroke netted two goals and Josh Atemkeng had two assists to help lift the Peabody boys soccer team to a 3-1 win over Marblehead on at Piper Field Monday evening. The two linked up once in the first half and once in the second half for scores, and had multiple scoring chances on top of those.

“They really played great out there, both of them,” Peabody head coach Stan McKeen said of the pair. “They were really working the ball up the field well all game, which is what we like to see.”

Jonathan Alves added the third goal for the Tanners, while Austin Silva had one assist. Marblehead’s goal was scored by Matteo Grolli on an assist from Lourenco DePaula.

It was the Magicians who had the better start to the game, dominating possession for the majority of the first half. Marblehead got multiple scoring opportunities within the first 10 minutes of the game, then nearly got a goal from Grolli on a beautiful shot, but Peabody goalkeeper Troy Cappos made a diving save to keep the Magicians off the board. Cappos finished the game with five saves, and all of them came in crucial situations.

“He’s been great for us all year,” McKeen said of his senior keeper. “The defense has played well in front of him, but he’s come up with the big saves in the big moments. And he’s a great communicator in the back end, which is so critical for playing good defense.”

Finally, after withstanding all the runs from the Magicians in the first half, the Tanners broke through with about 3:30 to go before the break. After Marblehead failed to fully clear a ball out of the zone, Atemkeng took control of the ball and started running down the right side of the field. He got into the box and sent a quick pass into the middle, where Aroke was waiting for a quick one-timer to make it 1-0 Peabody.

In the second half, the roles reversed. Peabody came out and dominated the early action, scoring a goal within the first six minutes of action. When moving the ball up the field with just over 34 minutes to go, Silva sent a perfect lead pass to Alves, who ran past three defenders for a one-on-one opportunity with Marblehead keeper Joe Ferrucci. Alves came out on top, popping a ball right over Ferrucci’s outstretched arms to make it 2-0 Tanners.

“I thought we started off a little flat today, so coming out and playing well to start the second half was good to see,” said McKeen. “We were able to take advantage of our opportunities out there.”

But Marblehead kept fighting. About six minutes later, the Magicians moved the ball into the offensive zone and started to set something up. DePaula ended up with the ball on his foot and sent a nifty left-footed pass to Grolli, who blasted a shot underneath the crossbar from about 20 yards out to make it a one-goal game.

But then, just 2:01 later, Peabody got a corner kick. Atemkeng sent a perfect cross into the box, where Aroke, one of the tallest players on the field, leapt up and knocked in a header to make it 3-1.

The wind pretty much came out of Marblehead’s sails at that point, and although they came up with a couple more scoring chances, Peabody was able to walk away with the win.

The Tanners (4-1-1) have another big test coming up on Wednesday when they take on Danvers.

“We’ve got to be consistent and play our best out there, because Danvers has a great team,” McKeen said. “We play that game and then we’re off for a week, so it would be nice to go into the break with some good momentum.”

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