When entering Thursday afternoon’s game against Palmdale Aerospace Academy – the top team in the Heritage League – Trinity Classical Academy boys soccer wanted to focus on playing smart.
“I told them their soccer IQ grew tremendously and I was very proud of that,” said coach Dave Norton.
Despite falling to the Griffins 10-1, the Knights worked on the offsides trap as a way of sharpening their own skills and limiting their opponent to the best of their ability.
Aerospace Academy (12-9-1 overall, 9-0 in Heritage League) piled on six goals in the first half, most of which were executed in the same style. A striker would coast up the right flank, then send a cross to a teammate waiting on the opposite side to tap in the ball.
“Right away our coach stepped in and he pushed our line all the way up so we could stop those through balls and they would catch a lot of those offsides balls,” said center midfielder Ben Wexler.
“Hopefully, we’ll learn from that again and we’ll make it to playoffs and the upcoming games.”
Wexler, a junior, scored Trinity’s lone goal of the afternoon in the 29th minute. Nolan Kulp crossed the ball on a corner, then players from both teams jostled the ball around before Wexler was able to touch it.
“I tapped it with my left foot and it was spot in the perfect position to volley it right over the goalie,” Wexler said.
In the second half, the Knights’ defense tightened up, including goalkeeper Andrew Dever, who finished the game with over 20 saves, according to Norton.
The goal was to keep the Griffins from making long passes and slow their movement upfield.
“The only thing you’ve got to do is cut off the source or shorten the field and I thought we did a good job,” Norton said. “Even though the score didn’t reflect that, I was very pleased.”
Trinity (4-11-1, 4-5-1) now turns its attention to next week’s games, which include Guidance Charter and Santa Clarita Christian on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively, to close out the regular season.
“This is the toughest team in our league,” Wexler said of Aerospace Academy, “and we’ve been really working on our defense to cut those through balls that they’re sending and we’re really visualizing our next move for the upcoming games against Guidance Charter and SCCS.”