Varsity Boys’ Soccer Falls to Hendrickson 1-0 in District Opener

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  • With a Hawk trailing behind, Niko Harris ’20 focuses on passing to his teammate. Although the Hawks put high pressure in the midfield, the Warriors were able to transition the ball in attempts to set up a shot.

  • Fighting for possession, Ben Forshay ’20 boxes his opponent out. Forshay and the backline saw constant action as the Hawks pushed closer to the Warriors’ goal.

  • Keeping an eye on the ground, Diego Djordjevic ’22 dribbles the ball up the sideline.

  • With an opposing midfielder approaching, Theo Givens ’20 passes upfield.

  • West Bevins ’20 takes a free kick in an attempt to set up a shot for his teammates.

  • With the Hawks’ defense closing in, Louis Niemerg ’21 takes a shot. The ball rolled out of bounds, giving possession to the Hawk’s goalkeeper.

  • Niko Djordjevic ’21 winds up to take a corner kick. The Warriors were not able to score off of the kick.

  • Stretching across the goal, Justin Lang ’20 leaps for the ball. Lang blocked the Hawks’ goal attempt.

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After a successful 2019 season which saw the varsity boys’ soccer team crowned as co-district champions, the Warriors looked to take the field in 2020 and begin defending their title. On Tuesday, Jan. 14, the Warriors travelled to Pflugerville to face their rival Hendrickson in the first district matchup of the regular season, and suffered their first loss of the year in a physical contest that finished 0-1. 

“Hendrickson’s always a very well coached team, a very physical team just like us and it came down to certain episodes,” Head Coach Stefano Salerno said. “I would say this game was a back and forth game, they had their chances more than us, but the fact that these guys stayed on the field for five minutes after the game and spoke to each other just shows what these guys are made of and they’re not gonna give up; not gonna let go of anything.”

The Warriors quickly gained control at the outset of the match, taking possession of the ball and applying pressure in the Hawks’ defensive third. The first shot on frame came in the 13th minute of play as Theo Givens ‘20 fired off a low ball from close range, which proved little trouble for Hendrickson’s goalkeeper. The Hawks quickly countered with a shot of their own two minutes later, but veteran goalie Justin Lang ‘20 handled it with similar ease. The closest the Warriors came to finding the back of the net in the first half of play happened at around the 20 minute mark, when newcomer forward Louis Niemerg’s ‘21 shot scorched its way just above the top crossbar. Minutes later, Hendrickson scored the only goal of the 80 minute match on a through ball that slipped through the Warrior’s back line, leaving Lang in a dangerous one-on-one with the Hendrickson forward that ended in disappointment for the away fans. As the first half ended, the game looked far from one-sided, as the Warrior’s back line managed to successfully close down any extra opportunities the Hawks had.

“Me and [West Bevins ‘20] and [Philip Richardson ‘20] are just making sure that we stay connected in the back and keep calm. We shift around and make sure we’re looking for the holding [midfielders] and the outside [midfielders] and not let the other team control the way we play,” defender Ben Forshay ‘20 said.

In the second half, the Hawks doubled down to try and close out the game while the Warriors fought for opportunities to attack. Lang played an impressive second half in goal, garnering five saves, including an acrobatic leap to stop a perfectly placed Hendrickson free kick from finding its way into the top corner of the net just ten minutes into the half. After several fruitless attempts on goal, the Warriors received the opportunity they needed around 30 minutes into the half when Givens was slide tackled from behind by a Hawk defender in the penalty box, yielding a yellow card for the defender and a penalty kick for midfield phenom Niko Djordjevic ‘21.  Although Djordjevic’s shot into the bottom right corner was placed well, the Hendrickson goalie guessed correctly and made a critical save to hold onto the one point lead until the final whistle blew.

After scoring a whopping 16 goals in preseason action, the Warriors found themselves walking off the field in their first game without a score. However, the optimism among the team seemed far from diminished as the boys look forward to playing the rest of the district table.

“I told the guys before this game that I believed in them one-hundred percent. It’s our first game where we haven’t scored, but we just have to get it going again,” Salerno said. “We need to keep working on our communication and our tactical decisions and just mental decisions in certain parts of the game and that’s what’s going to help us get ready for the next one.”

The Warriors will look to rebound from their loss on Friday, Jan. 17 at home on the Warrior Bowl, where they will face the Vista Ridge Raiders in the second match of district play.