Boys soccer: Matadors pummel Saratoga Falcons 5-1

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Kinglsey Wang

Senior Hari Kaushik trys to keep the ball away from two Saratoga Center Mids. Photo taken by Justin Kim
Senior Hari Kaushik trys to keep the ball away from two Saratoga Center Mids. Photo taken by Justin Kim

The New Year’s Resolution: win the league games. MVHS opened up the season against Saratoga High with a win.

Under the clouds and light rains of Jan. 6, the boys soccer team played their first game of the calendar year against the Falcons and ended the game with a 5-1 win. This was the first league game for both teams. The Matadors and the Falcons went into the game with even records of 3-3-2 and 2-2-1, respectively.

The Matadors started the game aggressively as they pushed deep into the Falcons’ defense. Despite being blocked by the goalie, a free kick by freshman Itay Rabinovich gave senior Radwan Hamwi the opportunity to score the Matadors’ first goal of the game when the goalie failed to recover from his own dive in time. The Matadors set up a play called the “gate”, where two of MVHS’ players would duck when the ball was kicked. This created a deception that forced the opposing goalie to properly react to the kick. Despite the Matadors’ aggression, the Falcons were able to push back and score a single goal right before half-time, rendering the score even at the end of the half.

In the second half, the Matadors were able to possess and pass the ball in the midfield. The Falcons’ defense soon burned out and they began letting long balls go deep into their half. MVHS forward—Hamwi, senior Hari Kaushik, and juniors Bryce McNeil and Hidetoshi Yoshimora—were able to outpace the Falcon defense, creating many one on one situations with the Falcon goalkeeper. The Matador’s constant aggression weakened the Falcons, who gradually lost energy and speed as the game progressed. The Matadors were cohesive and communicating while the Falcons faltered.

The main aspect keeping the Falcons alive was their ability to somewhat revive their offense. They were able to send deep balls from the center backs to the forwards. However, the Matadors played a solid defensive game and were able to win the ball just after two SHS passes.

The back line of SHS was proven weak as the four defenders were not able to touch any balls traveling through the air. This led to many instances where the Matadors were able to completely bypass the SHS defense just by playing one pass.

“We picked up the tempo a bit. We started connecting until we got to goal,” said Hamwi, who scored two goals, “and good things happen when you play each other’s feet.”

With ten minutes left in the game, junior Nikash Narula bypassed the keeper. However, a bad touch put him at an extremely hard angle and he was not able to put the ball in the net. However, just moments later, Narula received the ball again on the top of the 18-yard box. With a well timed touch and an audacious volley, the ball floated right past the keeper’s hands and settled into the net.

The Matador bench erupted as players tried to comprehend what they saw. Narula, who was not done showing off his exceptional feat, proceeded to perform the trending “dab” as a goal celebration while players on the field swarmed him.

This win pulled the Matadors out of their two week slump of injured players and lost games. Coach Patrick Lowney was happy that the team was finally back on track to winning games.

“After our tournament we had a few bumps and bruises,” he said, “But we have our whole team back now so it was good.”

This victory marked the end of the three game losing streak from the end of last year. The new year started to look up for the Matadors.