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Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

Varsity Soccer Breaks Losing Streak With Tie to Vandegrift

Ellen Chuo
Jack Cox ‘26 makes direct eye contact with an open teammate as he passes the ball. Throughout the game the varsity boys displayed a clear sense of trust in each other as their plays became more intricate.

On Friday, Feb. 9, the varsity men’s soccer team played against the Vandegrift Vipers in their seventh district game of the year, ending the match with a score of 1-1. Last time the Warriors played the Vipers  were victorious 1-0, but since last year the tides have changed. This year the Vipers are ranked second in the state and are top 30 in the entire nation. The Warriors hoped to beat out their district rivals once again in this eagerly awaited game. 

“I think it’s gonna be a tough game, [Vandegrift is] one of the best teams in the state right now, but I think it’ll be close and I think we can do really good,” Rahul Kuthiala ‘25 said. “We played them last season, the last game at district and we beat them 1-0, [and] I think [we can do it again]. We’ve been working on a lot of corner plays, set pieces, and some stuff like that. [Vandegrift] is always a good team so we have a game plan for them, we’ve watched a lot of film from them, and we’re ready.”

Starting the game with high-intensity energy, Jack Cox ‘26 kicked off the ball and Westwood immediately transitioned to offense, keeping possession of the ball. Throughout the first half of the game, it was clear that the Warriors had vastly improved since their last game, and had worked on multiple plays that required the team to put full trust in each other. Shalin Lakhia ‘24 and Braden Wilson ‘24 both had breakaways within the first 10 minutes of the game that gave the Warriors huge chances to strike first.

As a result of those breakaways, the team had a boost of confidence and energy heading into the midpoint of the half. Just after those opportunities Caleb Fagan ‘25, Ishaan Saini ‘26, and Griffin Goss ‘25 all displayed skilled footwork during give-and-goes in a play that brought the ball closer and closer to the goal. The Warriors continued to dominate on offense for most of the first half but had a minor, and costly slip-up, allowing the Vipers to score with seven minutes left in the first half. 

“We were dominating for the whole game and we had one minor setback off of a little mistake but I think the team was able to bounce back really well,” Anvith Maddipoti ‘24 said.

Once the second half began, Westwood quickly lost possession of the ball but was able to maintain a strong defense. Goalie Aakash Nagarahalli ‘24 had multiple saves at the start of the half but hit his head on the field following a corner kick, and was asked by the trainers to switch off with the other goalkeeper, Maddipoti, to make sure he was not seriously injured. 

“We have three really capable keepers and there’s been a lot of competition between all three of us and I really hope Aakash feels better, but our coach has always told us to be ready for any opportunity and any chance we get just to make the most out of it,” Maddipoti said. “I feel like I did that today.”

Not long after the goalkeepers were switched out one of the Warriors played a long through ball and Lakhia sprinted after it, but just as he approached the ball a Vandegrift player shouldered him off right before the ball went out of bounds, leaving many Warriors fans frustrated as they thought it should have been a foul.

Primed for a comeback, the Warriors were able to gain possession of the ball, a promising turn of events, and an upturn for Westwood after they had been on defense for a large chunk of the second half. The Warriors and Vipers continually switched back and forth for possession of the ball until the last minute of the game. With just 39 seconds left in the game, Cox scored a lob shot on the Vipers and tied the game. The crowd erupted in cheers as the team shared a victory hug. The final 30 seconds of the game were very tense, with neither team wanting to be scored on, as time was impeding, however, both teams could breathe a sigh of relief as the clock hit zero, ending the game. 

“It was pure adrenaline after everything we did,” Wilson said. “After all the effort we put in, we came into this game thinking we’re gonna kill them, we’re gonna win, at least get a tie, we weren’t scared of them, we kept pushing on the whole game and then when you finally get that goal to tie it up against a first place team, it’s magical. It’s a big indicator for the rest of our season, we’re gonna come back in the second round and we’re gonna blow teams out, and we’re gonna at least put them away.”

The varsity boys soccer team will take on the Round Rock Dragons on Tuesday, Feb. 13, at the Warrior Bowl at 7:30 p.m.

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About the Contributors
Mina Stephens
Mina Stephens, Heritage Staff
Class of 2026
I am so excited to work on press this year and to help create the yearbook! I love writing stories and sharing them with people. When i’m not busy at school or band, I love reading and spending time with my friends.
Ellen Chuo
Ellen Chuo, Photo Editor
Class of 2024 This is my second year working on Student Press, and I'm so excited to be part of the team. When I'm not at school, I enjoy playing guitar, hanging out with friends, and sleeping. I love to bake, especially when I should be doing homework or studying for a test. I also love hiking, camping, and taking pictures of nature.

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