Boys soccer: Worthington finds its comfort zone



The Globe

WORTHINGTON -- When Eric Knuckles was moved up to varsity, he thought he’d spend some time learning from teammate Jon Keodouangsy.

He didn’t know the type of immediate impact he’d have.

Keodouangsy and Knuckles combined for five goals Tuesday to lead the Worthington boys soccer team to a 7-1 victory over St. Peter.

“It’s a pretty good score,” Keodouangsy said. “Even the fact that we played one of our best games out here of the season. All the other games you see with the score, we didn’t play that good. We didn’t earn it, but we won it. This game I think we earned it.”

Knuckles, who was playing in his second varsity game, started and ended the scoring in the first half.

“I thought I was just going to come in under Jon, learn slowly from Jon and build my way up once Jon left. I didn’t know this was going to happen,” said Knuckles, who has four varsity goals in two games. “If you look at all these guys, they are veterans, they went to sections last year and won sections and went to state. We’re trying to get there. Me, as a sophomore, really this is my first season, I have to work to get there so I can be one of them.”

Worthington, which has struggled with slow starts this season, recently moved up to fifth in the Class A rankings. On Tuesday, the Trojans played like a state-ranked team.

“Just because of our rating, it doesn’t mean anything, it’s just a rating,” Keodouangsy said. “No. 5 is all right, but if we finish the season off and hoping to get the No. 1 spot in the state and finish the season off like that, it would be exciting. Right now it’s just a number to us and we’re just trying to play.”

Knuckles’ first goal came 3 minutes, 35 seconds into the game with an assist from Keodouangsy.

“To get that first goal was good,” Knuckles said. “It helped us settle down and broke the ice a little bit if you want to say. Then we were at it.”

The Trojans peppered the Saint goal from the opening kick. They outshot SP 22-7 in the game.

“I think it was all about our mentality and how we came into the game,” WHS head coach Juan Flores said. “We watched a little bit of film before the game and we talked about the things we needed to work on. I wanted them to see it and pick it out. Our passing wasn’t very good, there was only two or three guys pressuring last game. I told them, it’s getting kind of old. We have to start out in the first half, we can’t wait until the second half. If we’re not a team that plays all 80 minutes, then there’s going to be a team down the road that’s going to play us all 80 minutes and it’s going to be too late for us.”

Keodouangsy added a goal before Guadalupe Padilla scored two minutes later on assists from Chris Cerda and Eh Kyoo. Keodouangsy scored his second goal on a penalty kick to push the lead to 4-0. St. Peter’s Jade Reicks answered with a goal late in the first half, but the Trojans weren’t done.

As the clock was winding down, WHS was playing in front of the St. Peter net. In the final second, Knuckles connected and scored with no time showing.

“All I was thinking about was they were counting down and I wanted it to be epic,” he said. “I just stuck my foot in there and it went in.”

The Trojans controlled the second half as Alex Luong -- who was celebrating his birthday -- scored on Anthony Euceda’s free kick. Keodouangsy, who is closing in on 100 career goals, added a breakaway goal late in the game.

“I’m really happy and proud of the kids for showing up tonight,” Flores said. “Hopefully we show up the rest of the season like this.”

St. Peter 1 0 -- 1 Worthington 5 2 -- 7