Boys soccer: Waseca nips Trojans, 2-0
WORTHINGTON — There was definitely no easing into the boys soccer season for Worthington in 2014. In their season opener Thursday, the Trojans were tasked with taking on defending South Central Conference champion and state qualifier Waseca.
They held their own, but the Bluejays’ ball-control, quick-pass style still helped them hand the Trojans a 2-0 Big South Conference loss.
“That’s why they’re the champions,” Worthington coach Smitty Ektnitphong said. “Those things that they did — play fast, better ball control, quick passing — that’s what makes them so tough. We didn’t play our game in the first half but I give a lot of credit to Waseca.”
Waseca definitely opened the game as the aggressor, getting off six shots on goal to only one for the Trojans. Worthington goalkeeper Rogelio Gutierrez Jr. held tough between the pipes for most of the first, but just once the Bluejays were able to sneak one by him. That came at the 16:21 mark when senior forward Cesar Gallegos knocked a hot shot into the left side of the net.
“That was a beautiful goal,” Ektnitphong said. “Our keeper never had a chance.”
It was enough to give the Bluejays a 1-0 lead at halftime.
Worthington came out looking like a brand new team in the second half. For much of the period, the Trojans completely dictated the pace and spent most of their time in the Waseca end.
The first strong scoring opportunity happened just 2:35 out of the half. Jesus Ordaz got a penalty kick from about 10 yards in front of the Bluejays’ goal and sent a laser to the right-hand side of goalkeeper Kline Barke. The junior sprawled out and made a tough, diving stop to rob the home team of a goal.
The Trojans continued to apply pressure. In the 54th minute, Jose Bahena forced Barke to dive to his left, but again he made the play. Just two minutes later, Andrew Johnson gained control of a rebound and fired it at the net. His shot sailed just high of the crossbar.
“That’s our style,” Ektnitphong said. “I talked to them at halftime and told them that we needed to play at our pace; not at Waseca’s pace. We had so many opportunities. I’m really proud of the way they came out in the second half.”
The last golden opportunity for the Trojans came in the 61st minute when Angel Sanchez actually got it by Barke on another penalty kick. His screamer from right to left curved past the diving keeper but clanged off the upper left corner of the goal, missing the net by mere inches.
Gallegos scored his second goal of the night in the 71st minute, ending what had been an impressive run for the Worthington defense. Until that shot 31 minutes after the half, the Trojans hadn’t given up a shot on goal in the second half.
“Coming into this game, I was anxious to see what our defense would do,” Ektnitphong said. “They played well. Even on the goal we gave up in the first half that really didn’t allow any penetration. I’m really proud of the defense. That was the unknown coming into tonight and they really solidified themselves as the guys we should have back there. And they’re only going to get stronger.”
The Trojans (0-1 overall, 0-1 BSC) will try to get into the win column at 2 p.m. Saturday at Loyola High School in Mankato.
Waseca 1 1 — 2
Worthington 0 0 — 0