Boys soccer: Trojans look sharp in win over Loyola
BY KARL EVERS-HILLSTROM
WORTHINGTON — The Worthington Trojans boys’ soccer team scored early and often Saturday, setting the pace for a clean 6-1 victory against overmatched Mankato Loyola.
Trojans midfielder Anthony Euceda started it off in the fifth minute, receiving a throw-in on the left side, streaking past his defender, then chipping the ball in over the Mankato Loyola goalie.
The home team’s offense showed tremendous potential, particularly on the counterattack, in the first half, putting up four goals.
“I think we’re improving every game, talking more, communicating better ... I think we played a lot better than in games before,” Euceda said.
Euceda was one of three Trojans players to score two goals on the day, along with fellow senior Victor Alvarez and sophomore Eric Knuckles.
For Euceda and Alvarez, goals are a common occurrence, but it was a new experience for Knuckles, who made his first varsity start for the Trojans Saturday. The striker’s first goal came in the 12th minute when he tapped in a perfect cross from Euceda to make the score 2-0.
“He’s one of the kids we’ve been watching at the JV level and we decided to bring him up,” said coach Juan Flores. “He performed really well. It was really a team effort .. he was at the right place at the right time and he converted, and that’s what our team needs to do.”
Knuckles scored his second close-range goal in the 47th minute when he tapped in the ball off of a rebound. Despite the good day, Knuckles said he could have done more damage.
“I made some opportunities, but I hesitated a little bit .. still need to do better,” Knuckles said. “I had another goal that was called offsides, so there’s things I need to watch as the season progresses.”
The Trojans had a couple goals called offsides on the day. Several great chances just missed the mark, including a Euceda shot that bounced off of the post.
“We’ve got to be consistent and when it comes to finishing, we have to put our chances in the back of the net,” Flores said. “Thankfully, today we finished with six goals, but we could have scored a lot more.”
Euceda scored his second goal with a minute left in the first half. Alvarez scored his first goal in the 28th minute, then again in the 53rd minute with an impressive shot from the corner to make it 6-1.
The Trojans defense was strong, but the back line got burned for the first time all season Saturday. Mankato Loyola attackers were able to sneak past the last line of defense several times in the first half, receiving through balls that could have resulted in goals with better execution.
Eventually, one of them did, when freshman attacker Johnny Godoy-Ramos received a long pass in space, then shot a perfectly-placed ball into the top left corner of the net.
Flores made adjustments in the second half, staggering his defenders where one would stay back, rather than having all four be positioned in a straight line.
“That helped out, because if they got through the first defender, the second one would come in and cut off the play,” Flores said.
Sure enough, the Trojans allowed no goals in the second half, and almost no real chances from the visiting team.