Junior boys soccer team undefeated after three games
Breathing room is always helpful.
It was what saved Haig State from having their three-goal lead snatched away from them by Victoria Park Panthers Oct. 7.
The junior boys soccer team held on to their lead, with a little help from the clock, winning 4-3.
Great pressure came on Earl Haig’s doorstep in the first half, said coach Robert Kettle, adding his charges handle the tension well.
“Victoria Park has always been a strong team and this is the very first year we have beaten them the five years I’ve been coaching the team,” he said. “It was well intentioned. I thought the guys showed a lot of composure on both teams.
“There wasn’t any of the nastiness that we have seen in previous games.”
Earl Haig’s first break in the Panther’s zone came when David Shin got a shot over goaltender Ali Abbas.
Six minutes later, Vic Park would tie up the game via a corner kick. Mohamad Abdallah was left alone in front and buried the ball past Haig State’s Mitchell Charles.
Kettle lauded his netminder as Abdallah’s goal would be the only one the Panthers would get on the starter.
In the second the boys in blue came out gunning, challenging their opponents deep in their zone. Still they could not capitalize on midfielder’s leading passes.
Finally, in the 64th minute, Sohrab Zand would chip a loose ball behind Abbas. During the deadlock breaking moment, Abbas would be injured and replaced by Mostafa Naderi.
Two more Haig goals would be added by Zand — his second via Arsalan Danesh — and Adi Cuza, much to the disappointment of Victoria Park’s coach Felipe Almeida.
“It was a game of different styles and the team with the more direct style came out in the end,” he said. “With the conditions, there were a couple of flukey occurrences.
“We had a shot right in front and we missed and it was 2-1,” he added. “That could’ve been a different game. It’s the little things that could’ve made the difference.”
Kettle would pull his starting goalie, which would lead to two Panthers goals by Abdallah and Kussai Salman.
The third came with one second left on the clock.
It was a frustrating loss, but Almeida was optimistic his team will advance come playoffs.
“We play as a team, we lose as a team, so all of them take responsibility for this,” he said. “Once they start to settle down, get our rhythm back, we’ll be okay.”
Victoria Park falls to 1-2-1 for four points after the loss, while Earl Haig is undefeated with three wins, admittedly one through default.
Next is Northview, which will provide a grand task for the Haigmen.
“That’s going to be a toughie,” Kettle said. “They’ve got the gifted athletes program but they’re only allowed to use two players out of the program on their team.”