WHS boy soccer players not exciting, but effective against Loyola
The Worthington boys soccer team defeated Mankato Loyola Thursday night at Trojan Field in Worthington, 3-0
WORTHINGTON -- The Worthington High School boys soccer program is successful enough that when they have a game, it’s never only about winning.
The Trojans defeated the Mankato Loyola Crusaders 3-0 Thursday night at Worthington’s Trojan Field, but for the discerning fans perhaps, and especially for head coach Juan Flores, the game left a little something to be desired.
“It was not how we planned it. We did not pass the ball very well. We had a lot of chances. “We just didn’t put the ball in the net,” Flores explained.
Three goals, yes. But in moving to 9-0 on the 2022 season, the Trojans -- now ranked No. 3 in Minnesota Class AA -- played what Flores called a safe, pedestrian game.
“We slowed the game down ourselves. We didn’t play as fast as we usually do. … We need to fix it, because it’s getting to the second half of the season,” said the coach.
Worthington scored its first goal on a close-range shot by junior midfielder Christian Martinez at the 33:30 mark of the first half. There were a few other first-half near-misses.
Just a couple of minutes after Martinez’ shot, a scoring attempt bounced off the post of the Loyola net. Later, a header bounced off the top post of the Loyola goal. And just under 18 minutes to go, a nice-looking WHS line drive attempt hit the football crossbar behind the net.
With about five minutes remaining in the half, Worthington got goal No. 2 as the result of a long forward pass whereupon junior Alan Flores outraced three Crusader defenders to the ball and booted it from 25 yards away toward goal. It skipped along the turf and found paydirt.
Early in the second half, the Trojans had a few more near-misses. One occurred at 35:50 when Santos Orellana struck a well-curved ball directly at the goal which was saved by the diving Loyola goalkeeper. Later, after a perfect feed in front of the Loyola goal from one Trojan to another, a shot was put just slightly high.
The only second-half goal for Worthington was scored by junior forward Jonathan Banegas with 12:48 to go. Banegas, who led the state in scoring as a sophomore, made a beautiful kick from the far left side of the net. If he was to have a chance at scoring, he had to thread it across to the extreme right side -- which is exactly what he did.
Throughout the game, Worthington was called for several off-sides penalties. Coach Flores said that was partially because Loyola plays a high line on the outside, which is something his team seldom sees.
What fans see often at Worthington boys soccer games, however, is outstanding defense. They saw it again Thursday, as the Crusaders did very little real crusading on the Trojans’ side of the field.
“Our defense is solid. They’re good. But we still gotta improve on every line,” said the coach, never one to allow his players to grow complacent.
Even so, he knows that the 9-0 start is noteworthy. The Trojans graduated several important players from last year’s state tournament team, and the pre-season expectations for this year’s team were subdued.
“Coming into this season we talked about a rebuilding year. But the kids stepped up,” Coach Flores said.
Mankato Loyola 0 0 -- 0
Worthington 2 1 -- 3