Prep boys soccer: Worthington determined to improve
WORTHINGTON -- Before the start of the 2015 boys high school soccer season, Worthington Trojans head coach Smitty Ektnitphong impressed upon anyone who would listen that his team would need to improve on "finishing."...
WORTHINGTON - Before the start of the 2015 boys high school soccer season, Worthington Trojans head coach Smitty Ektnitphong impressed upon anyone who would listen that his team would need to improve on “finishing.”
Ektnitphong’s many finishing speeches were not lost on the Trojans Tuesday night as the team overcame a 2-2 halftime tie to thwart Marshall, 4-2.
Though the Trojans looked impressive in the second half, it was the first half that players wanted to stress after the game.
“We weren’t pressuring enough. And we weren’t connecting and passing the ball,” said senior Jose Bahena.
“I don’t think we expected this kind of challenge from them,” added Ricky Ibarra.
The first player to speak was junior forward Ivan Rodriguez, who when complimented for he and his teammates’ quickness and aggressiveness in the second half, seemed almost to apologize for the Trojans’ rather sluggish start.
“A win’s a win. The team worked hard for it. That’s what we want to do,” he said, explaining that the communication wasn’t sharp early. “In the second half, we got our connections better. We were more aggressive. We got to the ball better.”
Ektnitphong has high hopes for Worthington’s 2015 soccer campaign. And judging from the players’ self-criticism on Tuesday, they are on board with it.
Indeed, early in the first half of Tuesday night’s contest, the two teams seemed fairly evenly balanced, even though Worthington went in as the clear favorite. Marshall even scored the first goal, as senior Ernani Augusta took over a loose ball and kicked it in with authority from about 12 yards out with 25:10 remaining in the opening half.
But freshman attacker MooDay Wah got the Trojans going when he scored the first of his two goals at the 18:19 mark. It was on a break, assisted by fellow freshman Jon Keoduangsy, who centered the ball to Wah from the left. Wah simply redirected it into a vacated portion of the net.
Five minutes later Wah scored his second goal after several attempts were beaten back by a furious Marshall defensive stand. Finally, Wah put it in, assisted by Tony Martinez.
But the Tigers wouldn’t quit. With 35 seconds remaining in the half, Jackson Luther scored on a corner kick and the teams went into intermission deadlocked 2-2.
Worthington was on the offensive for most of the second half. The Trojans broke the deadlock on a Chris Cerda shot from 15 yards out, assisted by Rodriguez. The clincher came with 15:38 remaining in the game as Bahena got the assist and Edwin Hernandez the score from close range to the left corner of the net. Bahena showed great hustle to shed a Marshall defender and bump the ball in front of his teammate.
After the Trojans clinched their third victory of the season against just one loss, Rodriguez talked about finishing.
“We’re still working on that. But we’re working hard in practice every day,” he said.
Ektnitphong agreed. And he agreed that his speeches on finishing bubble forth constantly. In the second half on Tuesday night, he said, the Trojans were as aggressive as he wants them to be on the finishing end.
“They insert themselves to get there first. We have improved each game,” he pointed out. “The question is, can we sustain the level of play? That’s a question we want to answer every game we play.”
Marshall 2 0 - 2
Worthington 2 2 - 4