Varsity Boys Soccer Bounces Back With 2-1 Win vs. Vista Ridge

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  • Niko Djordjevic ’21 hits a header over Vista Ridge player.

  • West Bevins ’20 throws in the ball.

  • Sam Helwig ’19 looks for an opening to move past two Vista Ridge defenders.

  • Theo Givens ’20 focuses hard as he readies a shot on the goal.

  • Anothy Bibbo ’20 out-dribbles a Vista Ridge player.

  • Sam Helwig ’19 races a defender to the ball.

  • Niko Djordjevic ’21 celebrates a goal with his teammates.

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The varsity boys’ soccer team traveled to Vista Ridge High School on Friday, Jan. 18 for their second district matchup of the season. The Warriors were hungry for a win after losing to Hendrickson on Tuesday, and succeeded in a physical and tense match that finished 2-1. The Warrior offense was spearheaded by Theo Givens ‘20 and Niko Djordjevic ‘21, who added a goal apiece.

The Warriors managed to keep the ball in the Rangers’ half of the field for the better part of the first period of play, and converted their first goal in just the 13th minute. A Felipe Centeno ‘19 cross from the left touch-line connected with Givens, who easily tapped the ball into the net to beat the keeper at close range. The Rangers immediately redoubled their efforts to score and put together a series of convincing chances in their attacking third. In the midst of a prolonged assault on the Warrior’s goal, keeper Justin Lang ‘20 was forced to put together three acrobatic saves in the span of a few short seconds to keep Vista Ridge from equalizing.

“I’ve coached many keepers in my life, and [Justin] is up there,” Head Coach Stefano Salerno said. “He kept us in the game in the first half with three amazing saves. The entire team just played a fantastic game, and we can talk about individuals, but this team is just something else.”

Vista Ridge continued their efforts until near the conclusion of the half, but a stingy Warrior defense led by Jack Elliott ‘19 and Avi Kacker ‘19 held the Rangers at bay.

“We were under a lot of pressure [on defense] for moments in the game, and the tide kept shifting,” Elliott said. “We did really well staying focused, keeping our heads up, just making sure there were no gaps in between us.”

The away team pulled ahead with their second and final goal of the night just three minutes before the first half ended. Lalo Rodriguez ‘19 took the ball in the midfield and started a counterattack. The ball then fell to Djordjevic, who hammered in a powerful shot from 25 yards out that the Vista Ridge goalie barely had a chance at saving. The half ended 2-0, giving the Warriors the confidence of a two-score lead as they left the field to regroup at halftime.

“Both games that we played, the intensity was there and the hustle was there. It just kind of shows us what this district is going to be like,” Coach Salerno said.  “Every single night is gonna be a dogfight.”

Both teams were reinvigorated at the start of the second half, and the Warriors promptly looked to keep expanding their lead. Givens fired off a promising volley that dinged off the top crossbar in the 13th minute of the half, and Anthony Bibbo ‘20 created several runs into the Ranger’s box, but the Warriors couldn’t find the back of the net despite their efforts. The Rangers started an attack in the 20th minute of the half that culminated in a penalty against the Warriors when the Vista Ridge forward was tripped up and fell to the ground five yards from the goal. The kick-taker fired a low shot into the bottom corner, and although Lang dove the right way, the shot was too powerful for him to stop. The Rangers were on the board, and were now a single score from equalizing. Vista Ridge desperately tried to put together an equalizer for the remainder of the game, and the Warriors were forced to defend a stream of Vista Ridge attacks. Lang was called upon to save countless Ranger shots in the waning minutes of the game, and miraculously kept his team ahead until the final whistle blew.

“Our guys played a phenomenal game and stayed calm when things got rough. With a couple minutes left we stayed in there and kept on fighting,” Coach Salerno said. “We’re gonna see games won at the end, or decided because of minute details, that’s what it came down to tonight.”

The Warriors will continue their district season at home against Round Rock High School on Tuesday, Jan 22.