TROJANS BOYS' SOCCER: Trojans defeat EaglesWORTHINGTON – Following a scoreless first half, the Worthington Trojan boys’ soccer team found the goal four times in the second half in a 4-1 victory over the New Ulm Eagles in a South Central Conference contest Tuesday night at Trojan Field.
By: Lance Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON – Following a scoreless first half, the Worthington Trojan boys’ soccer team found the goal four times in the second half in a 4-1 victory over the New Ulm Eagles in a South Central Conference contest Tuesday night at Trojan Field.
“We moved some people around in the second half and really got some things working for us,” WHS head coach Smitty Eknitphong said following the game. “We felt that we needed some help at the forward position so we moved Victor Meza up to forward and told the kids to play the ball to the wing.
“We wanted to build everything up through the wing and then present yourself in the middle. And it worked out well. The kids really took it to task well.”
Meza, a junior midfielder, responded well to the position switch up to a striker as he put the Trojans on the board with the game’s first counter just over nine minutes into the second half.
“It went over the defender and I was 1-on-1 with the goalie,” Meza said of his first goal. “I took the opportunity and was able to get us on the board.”
However, Meza wasn’t finished scoring and he made quick work of getting his second goal.
Following a shot by WHS that gave NU a goal kick, Eagle goaltender Alexander King sent the kick to the middle of the pitch and had it sent back towards the box by Trojan defender Randy Lopez.
Lopez’s header was quickly corralled by Meza, who dribbled past the NU defense for another solo chance with the keeper. King closed in on Meza to try and cut down the angle, but a swift right-footed kick to the corner of the net put WHS up 2-0 a minute after scoring the opener.
“When you’re 1-on-1 with the goaltender, you have to take advantage of those opportunities,” Meza said. “And I was fortunately able to do it again and get the second goal.”
With a two-goal lead and plenty of momentum on its side, WHS continued to direct pressure on the NU goal over the next several minutes. With the two goals already in tow, Meza had a pair of opportunities to garner the hat trick, but fired a 30-yard shot right at the keeper and was stonewalled by King on a shot attempt on a cross through the box from Andrew Johnson.
“I was trying to secure the victory,” Meza said. “I knew we were up by two and I just wanted to make sure we got the third.”
Meza was never able to complete the hat trick, but he and his Trojan teammates didn’t have a lack of chances throughout the middle portion of the second half as Jesus Ordaz, Josh Kleve, Johnson and Veza all fired shots on or near the goal, but couldn’t extend the lead.
That changed with 12:50 left in the contest when Jose Bahena battled in the box for possession of the ball following a corner kick.
Bahena’s goal gave WHS a nice cushion to work with and pushed the Eagles to the point of desperation, being down by three goals.
NU managed to maintain ball control and field possession over the next several minutes, sending in several chances at Trojan keeper Kody Honius.
Honius was able to withstand the Eagles’ barrage at the net to keep the visitors off the board until WHS worked the ball back down to the other end for its final goal.
The Trojans’ final goal came with 1:19 left in the contest and was delivered by Mark Demuth on a header from the middle of the box. Mu Lar Taw chipped a pass ahead to Demuth to gain an assist on the play.
“It feels good to get that goal,” Demuth said. “I played most of the game as a defender and then coach moved me to the forward. I was able to finish that one off and believe I did a good job up there.”
Demuth’s goal completed the hosts’ scoring, but not the game’s as the Eagles rallied for one last chance in the final minute.
Following a corner kick with about 45 seconds left, WHS was unable to clear the ball out of the box and NU’s Daniel Wessel was able to put the ball into the left-hand corner, past a diving Honius to erase the potential clean sheet for the Trojan keeper.
“We started out really slow, but after halftime, we started to talk more, got focused and worked together better as a team,” Honius said. ‘The coaches moved some guys around and the guys adjusted to the changes and played really well.”
Those changes made by Eknitphong proved to be the differences as the Trojans were able to improve upon what they were able to establish in the first half by finishing off chances.
“I wasn’t happy with the first half at all,” Eknitphong said. “I was frustrated and I think the kids were frustrated, too.
“But we told them that there was another 40 minutes to go and that we could fix this thing. We needed everybody to get in sync and that’s what they did.”
The first half saw WHS maintain possession of the ball for much of the action, but NU’s defense wouldn’t allow much past it.
“In the first half, we struggled with the ball,” Eknitphong said. “We tried to go in one direction and that means that you try to poke the ball ahead and running to it. You could see that we were getting into trouble by running and getting fouls because of the offside trap.
“I told the kids that we’ve seen that look before. We had the ball control but kept losing position. We couldn’t create any chances for scoring. We had a couple of looks but didn’t finish them off.”
While the Trojans were unable to create those chances in the opening half, they were able to improve upon what they did in the opening frame to play an all-around game.
“Our defenders really played well,” Eknitphong said. “They did a nice job of clearing the ball away in front of Kody (Honius). I was really proud with how Kody played and contested balls. He battled back after a tough game Monday.
“We made some changes and were able to finish things off in the second half.”
With the win, the Trojans improve to 5-4 (2-2 in the conference) and return to action Thursday with a home game with Marshall.
“We have some tough games coming up,” Eknitphong said. “We beat Marshall the last time up there, but they’ve been getting better.
“We still need to continue to work hard and keep improving ourselves. Hopefully, we can come out Thursday and put on another good show for our fans.”
NU 0 1 – 1
WHS 0 4 – 4