PREP BOYS' SOCCER: WHS grounds EaglesWORTHINGTON — Worthington’s defense was almost too good in Thursday’s boys’ soccer game against Southwest Christian. The Eagles launched plenty of scoring threats, but the WHS defense allowed only three shots to reach the hands of goalkeeper Ricardo Maldonado in a 2-0 Trojan victory.
WORTHINGTON — Worthington’s defense was almost too good in Thursday’s boys’ soccer game against Southwest Christian.
The Eagles launched plenty of scoring threats, but the WHS defense allowed only three shots to reach the hands of goalkeeper Ricardo Maldonado in a 2-0 Trojan victory.
“They’re not boring games, but you’ve just got to watch,” Maldonado said. “The defense did an awesome job.”
Worthington received a pair of goals from Omot Okello in the first half and it turned out to be all the scoring the team would need with the defense holding tight the rest of the way.
SWC controlled the ball for the first few minutes of the contest, but it didn’t take long for the Trojan offense to heat up.
Thun Lay received a nice through ball from Victor Meza five minutes in and temporarily lost his footing, but was able to turn and fire a shot just wide for WHS’ first scoring opportunity.
Okello broke through for the first score of the game 12:17 in. After a scramble up front, Diego Esquivel found Okello with a through ball to the left side, which Okello directed over Southwest Christian goalkeeper Zach Huisken into the right side of the net.
Okello had a number of other chances soon after — including a pair of shots that forced saves from Huisken 18 seconds apart with 22 minutes gone in the game — and finally punched through a second goal at the 31:26 mark.
Mu Lar Taw started the scoring play with a through ball to Esquivel, who fired a shot right at Huisken that rebounded off of his feet and straight to Okello, who easily pounded the ball into the net.
By halftime the Eagles had managed only one shot on goal compared to eight shots on goal by Worthington.
“We had a lousy first half and a very nice second half,” SWC head coach Leland Vanderaa said. “We didn’t hustle in the first half, we didn’t trap the ball — we didn’t do hardly anything right in the first half. Worthington played a very nice first half.”
Southwest Christian had its best scoring opportunities in the second half, but only managed two shots on goal in the half.
“The second half was a lot more even,” Vanderaa said. “We got our opportunities and we didn’t capitalize. Really we weren’t threatened much in the second half by them.”
Maldonado was forced to intercept a cross by the Eagles 5:09 into the half and just less than a minute later made a diving save on a header by Klint Knutson.
Southwest Christian had more chances to use its height advantage to head in a goal, but each attempt came just inches shy of being directed firmly on target.
“I’m guessing they just didn’t have luck — that’s what you need, is luck,” Maldonado said. “It is luck, because to get a header is not easy, I find it hard.”
The Trojans managed only one shot on target in the second half on SWC goalkeeper Monte DeKam — who came into the game at halftime — though managed to get a lot of players in the game but substituting regularly.
“It always feels great to beat these guys,” WHS head coach Vilath Lovan said. “It’s hard to play against big, tall, physical kids.”
Luis Echeverria was a particular standout for the Trojans in defense in the contest. He constantly thwarted the Eagles’ forwards before they could get the ball up far enough to take a shot, often using crafty footwork to do so.
“Luis, he was covering the whole field,” Lovan said. “He was defending everywhere. He never gave up on anything.”
The WHS midfield was also a big factor in neutralizing SWC’s forays forward, managing to control the ball with short, sharp passes while also clogging up the Eagles’ passing lanes.
“The midfield played awesome,” Lovan said. “Angel (Sanchez), Diego (Esquivel), they give me 110 percent every game.”
With the victory, the Trojans improved to a perfect 4-0 on the season.
“It feels good,” Maldonado said. “I thought we would at least lose one, but we’re doing pretty good these four games that we’ve played. Hopefully we can do that for the remaining games.”
The Eagles (2-2-1) will be right back in action today on the road at Mankato West.
Vanderaa noted that his team showed improvement in the second half, but still has some things it will need to improve for today’s game.
“We’ve got to work on passing and being more aggressive to the ball, really those two things — which we did much better in the second half,” Vanderaa said. “We still have a ways to go.”
Worthington will next play at Saint Peter on Saturday.
The Trojans will focus mainly on resting up before the game, with a number of players nursing general aches and soreness. The team had one injury concern in Thursday’s game with Onel Chavez leaving with a knee injury with 23 minutes left in the game.
“(Thursday’s game) was the kind of game that we build our confidence going to the next game,” Lovan said. “We’ll go (today), we’ll take it easy, everyone’s hurt. Everybody’s been sore. I had one of my defenders hurt his knee. I’ll probably take it easy on them tomorrow to get ready for Saturday.”
Maldonado is hoping to get more action in net on Saturday. From what he’s heard, there should be a very good chance that he will.
“I really haven’t seen (Saint Peter) play this year,” Maldonado said. “I heard that they actually shoot from far distance, so hopefully I can get some action at least.”
SW Christian 0 0 — 0
Worthington 2 0 — 0