Knuckles scores twice, Trojan boys beat Marshall, 2-0
WORTHINGTON -- Worthington High senior soccer star Eric Knuckles missed practice on Monday because of a slight knee injury.
Then on Tuesday he made it hurt so good.
Knuckles scored a pair of goals to lead his unbeaten team to a 2-0 victory over the Marshall Tigers in a Big South Conference boys soccer clash at Trojan Field.
“I had a chip on my shoulder,” Knuckles said with a grin. “I had to show Coach I could miss a day and still play the same.”
Trojan coach Juan Flores didn’t start Knuckles, instead opting to insert the striker about midway through the 40-minute first half. About a minute later the Trojans were on the scoreboard.
“There was a deflection,” said Knuckles when asked about a scrum near the Marshall goal. “I moved it with my left (foot) and shot with my right. And it went in.”
Knuckles added a spectacular goal with 3:44 to play in the second half as the Trojans prevailed in what was an emotional clash against the arch-rival Tigers. His header from just in front of the goal found the back of the net as WHS ended all hopes of a Marshall comeback.
“I owe all of it to Menkem Mehri,” Knuckles said of his junior teammate. “He chipped it up. No. 5 (Marshall’s Si Koch) missed it and I was able to jump and hit it with my head.”
Worthington head coach Juan Flores wasn’t surprised.
“He’s just there,” said Flores. “Always at the right place at the right time. We had a couple of other chances to put them away, but we got the ones we needed and we got the win.”
Sophomore goalkeeper Osmin Pineda held firm despite some excellent pressure from the Marshall team, especially in the second half. The youthful goalie displayed excellent poise.
“We can really learn from the older players,” Pineda. “We are improving every game and it shows.”
Flores had several key saves in the second half.
“I like it,” Flores said of Pineda’s performance. “This will give him a lot of confidence and momentum moving forward. He knows what to expect now in games like this.”
The Trojans improved to 6-0-1 on the season. Marshall, which lost to the Trojans 3-0 on Sept. 25, dropped to 2-2-3.
“It was back and forth,” said Marshall coach Roberto Esparza, whose team missed several fine scoring chances when shots from point-blank range went high. “In my opinion, we dominated the game. But they scored.
“This was a lot different from the last game. In the last one they dominated us and they won pretty easily. This time they scored on our mistakes.”
Knuckles made the right moves when it counted most. So did many of his teammates, which is why the WHS record is so outstanding.
“Yes sir,” said Knuckles. “But it’s all about the next game. That’s all that matters. This was a good win, but we played sloppy in some areas. And we’re going to clean it up.”
Said Flores: “It’s a good win to get. There’s a lot of things we can improve on. We have to keep getting better. Right now we’re getting the job done. But we’ve got to be better.”
The Trojans travel to St. Peter on Friday.
Marshall 0 0 -- 0
Worthington 1 1 -- 2