Hart High boys soccer’s 4-2 win against Quartz Hill High of Lancaster on Thursday at Hart was a battle in more ways than one.
The Indians were at the start of a season void of the previous year’s talented seniors, leaving the team to rely on underclassmen and other less experienced players.
But a bar-down security goal from Brian Figg, a sub in his first year on varsity, helped diminish the team’s nerves significantly.
“It’s a good feeling for me and a good feeling for the players as well,” said Hart coach Adonay Jovel. “But more than anything, it’s good for the program. It’s good to see that these guys are getting better and better.”
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“We’re really fast, we like to shoot,” said Figg, a striker, of this year’s offense. “It’s going to be pretty exciting to watch us, I think. We have a lot of talent and we know how to hit the ball in the net.”
Getting to that final goal wasn’t easy, however. Hart fought their way out of a 2-2 tie and had tight battles with the Rebels in the first half, rarely managing to get into scoring territory.
“They were good in the middle,” said Hart midfielder Jesus Ocampo. “They knew how to defend, pressed us quick, made sure we were shut down right way. They were physical. They were a little bit taller than our guys and they were able to win the high balls in the air.”
Ocampo finally broke through in the 24th minute, tapping the ball in from the center of the box for the only goal of the opening frame.
In the second half, Hart’s high-energy offense brought an onslaught of shots, but the defense allowed a Quartz Hill goal in the 52nd minute. A minute later, Ocampo once again found the back of the net, setting the score to 2-1.
“We just take the shot when we have it,” Ocampo said. “If it goes in, it goes in. But we like to build up top. Get the ball moving, make sure we go side to side, pass the ball, find each other in the spaces and take a shot.”
On a goal off of a throw-in that skimmed the goal line, the Rebels tied the game up, 2-2, late in the second half.
With less than two minutes left in regulation, Enrique Perez, a Hart striker, booted the ball from about 20 yards out for the go-ahead goal and set the stage for Figg’s final score.
Three sophomores took the field for the Indians, playing at keeper, right back, and center mid. A stark difference from the senior-laden field of last season.
“I feel like we’ll get stronger as the season goes on for sure,” Ocampo said. “We’re going to make sure we pass the ball more, get more comfortable with each other. A lot of these guys are young; we haven’t played with them before. Hopefully, we’re able to become better as a team.”