The Hillsboro boys varsity soccer team will try to win its own tournament championship on Saturday, after defeating Washington, 5-1 on Wednesday. The Hawks will meet SLUH on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Hillsboro broke open a very tight match Wednesday with four goals in the second half. But the way the match started, it seemed like the Hawks were ready to take control right away. Once the whistle was blown to start the match, the Hawks controlled the ball. Colton Leonard was streaking downfield, and Mark Moore lifted a perfect pass that Leonard took in stride and buried a shot into the net just 11 seconds into the contest. The Hawks held a 1-0 lead before anyone could break a sweat.
But that was it for the half. And Washington went on the attack late in the half. The Blue Jays kept offensive pressure on the Hawks in the last ten minutes, but couldn’t capitalize. “Our spacing was not very good defending,” head coach Chris Schacht commented. “Our communication was breaking down, and we got caught out of position quite a bit because of it in the latter stages of the first half.” Assistant Coach Sam Nansel agreed. “Washington gained the momentum towards the middle of the first half and pushed hard for an equalizer,” he said. “Instead of playing it safe, our defense kept trying to dribble the ball out of the back, which allowed them to sustain pressure. And defender Andrew Bridges knew the Hawks were fortunate to go into halftime still on top. “We let off there for a little bit and closed the half out 1-0. We realized we had to do better at halftime.”
Coach Schacht said the team weathered the storm. “We absorbed their best shot. The boys stuck to what works best and reaped the rewards as the game wore on.”
And that started with 26:04 left to go in the match. The Hawks were awarded a penalty kick after an infraction, and Mitchel Hickson squeezed the ball through the diving goalie’s arms. As the ball trickled into the net, the Hawks were up 2-0. Just a little over five minutes later, Werner Finder hit the right lower corner of the net off an assist from Jacob Bogowith, setting off a wild celebration. Finder rushed into the goal and grabbed the ball. When asked if the goal had a personal significance, Finder just said it meant a lot to the team. “No, the goal didn’t really have any special significance,” he said. “Everyone reacted the way they did because it was like the nail in the coffin goal.”
And he was right. The wind was out of Washington’s sails. A little more than two minutes later, Moore struck for Hillsboro on a breakaway. After taking a pass from Peter Moravec, Moore scored his 16th goal of the season to make it 4-0 Hawks. To make matters worse for the Blue Jays, Hillsboro’s fifth goal, which was credited to Moore, hit the back of the net when one of its own players headed the ball into his own goal…5-0 Hillsboro.
With 5:13 left in the game, the shutout was unfortunately ruined when Washington finally got one past Hillsboro goalie AJ Krasnesky, bringing the match to the eventual 5-1 final score. Krasnesky made seven saves in the match, several in tight situations. Coach Nansel said the sophomore continues to improve. “AJ is progressing from his time in the net this season, but he needs to become stronger mentally,” Nansel pointed out. “Sometimes he makes mistakes that he doesn’t have to. With that being said, he’s a very capable goalkeeper, and he is getting better in my opinion.”
Overall, the victory was a satisfying one for the Hawks. “I think we bounced back well in the second half,” Bridges said. “We knew they were a good team coming into this, but I think our team really showed our skill and desire to win games tonight.”