Varsity Boys’ Soccer Dominates Dragons in Second Half Victory

Nima Ashtari, Community & World News Editor

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While facing the daunting possibility of being eliminated from the running for the coveted district title due to two consecutive losses, the varsity boys’ soccer team hung on to their chances in a composed 4-1 victory against a win-hungry Round Rock team on Friday, Feb. 22.  

“It’s always tough to lose, and when you lose two in a row it’s even worse,” head coach Stefano Salerno said. “Today, we needed a response, and we got the response.”

Nikola Djordjevic ‘21 had his breakout game of the season, contributing two assists and putting two more into the net himself, making him a contributor to every goal the Warriors scored. Theo Givens ‘20 grabbed a goal and an assist as well, and Luca Cipleu ‘21 topped things off with a score of his own.

‘[Djordjevic] has been assisting so many goals. He has somewhere around 15 assists this year, it’s ridiculous,” Coach Salerno said. “We’ve scored 30 something goals and he’s assisted half of them. As he came off the field, I told him it was his best game because of the stuff we’ve been talking about all year long, and he really started showing it tonight.”

The Warrior’s looked like the dominant team from the outset and nabbed an early score in just the fifth minute. Givens thundered down the sideline and worked a ball into Djordjevic who finished easily in the bottom corner on a disoriented Dragon defense. The visitors fought back viciously after the initial shock of the early score, but defender Jack Elliott ‘19 consistently thwarted every Dragon attack. The Warriors held onto the narrow lead until the 32nd minute when Round Rock managed to equalize. Goalie Justin Lang ‘20 saved the initial shot from the Round Rock forward, but found himself on the ground and unable to stop the follow up.

“We played 80 minutes of soccer, and we let Round Rock take one shot on us. Unfortunately, they scored on it,” Coach Salerno said. “It just shows our resiliency again. The pressure was where it needed to be today, we put four goals on one of the best defenses in our district, so it’s a step ahead.”

The Warriors owned the second half from start to finish. Elliott was removed from the field after taking a fall at the end of the first half, giving Indri Schaelicke ‘19 a chance to step in and fill the void. The home team retook the lead straight away in the eighth minute of second half action, this time with a perfectly placed Djordjevic free kick from near the left corner, which sailed straight into the upper ninety. Givens added his first and only goal just minutes later, and Cipleu rounded out the night with the fourth and final Warrior goal seven minutes before the final whistle blew.

“Particularly in the second half, we showed a lot of fight that we’ve been missing in the past two games,” Schaelicke said. “I’m really proud about how we brought it together today, and that’s why we got the result we did. We can’t get too ahead of ourselves, we have to take every game seriously. If we put in as much heart as we did today, we can beat any team.”

The Warriors need to win every remaining district game if they hope to take back their spot at the top of the table, which will be no easy task.

“We need to take care of McNeil on Tuesday and then, take a quick break with the bye, and focus on [Vandegrift] and Leander as we head into the last part,” Coach Salerno said. “We got a couple guys back today because we were missing so many guys on Tuesday. We just got to make sure we keep it going now. We’re two points behind Hendrickson, depending on how they did tonight. We have to win out, and hope for a hiccup on their end.”

The Warriors will head into the home stretch of the regular season on Tuesday, Feb. 26 against the McNeil Mavericks at the Warrior Bowl.