Through the first two games of the season, the Hart boys soccer team has earned its identity as a second-half team. On Thursday in their third game, the Indians and their identity would be put to the test as they went toe-to-toe with El Camino Real at Hart.
Deadlocked with El Camino Real at halftime, the Indians switched up tactics and continued their intense attack on the visitors to shut out last season’s West Valley league runner-up, 2-0.
“All three games we have scored in the second half,” said Hart head coach Adonay Jovel. “We have been a second-half team.”
Hart senior forward Nicholas Woll provided both goals for the Indians, but it didn’t come easy as Woll had some difficulties connecting with teammates Lawrence Luna, Joseph Ochoa and Jesus Alfonzo in the attacking third of the first half.
“It was just chemistry, we needed to start passing better and we were a little off,” Woll said. “But towards the end of the game we started sticking passes, playing well and it went uphill from there.”
Playing wider to begin the second half, Hart (3-0 overall) created more space by spreading the Crusaders out and the change in tactics worked.
In the 54th minute of play, Hart midfielder Carlo Lopez stepped in front of an El Camino Real pass just below midfield and passed the ball up to Austin Bello. With a defender on him, Bello made a juke and was pulled down by the Crusader with Woll lurking in the background.
As the players went to the ground, Woll saw his opportunity. With the El Camino Real goalkeeper rushing out to the edge of the box, Woll got a foot on the ball and rolled it in for the game’s first goal.
“I wanted to attack a little wider and see if we could create chances through the wide areas and it seemed to work,” Jovel said. “I felt that using some of our more creative players in the wide areas helped us.”
Two yellow cards were shown on back-to-back trips down the field for Hart as defender Sebastian Ramirez and Bello were called for fouls in the 57th and 58th minute of play, respectively.
But Hart’s backline and goalkeeper, Lucas Enriquez, didn’t miss a beat and denied El Camino Real (6-2) the chance to level the score.
“Enriquez did a great job and made some great saves,” Jovel said. “He plays good on the high balls and he has a presence. Sometimes I feel he needs to speak a little more, but I think his actions speak louder than words.”
Woll scored his second goal of the day in the 67th minute after a beautiful sequence. Cameron Castañeda made a swift run into El Camino Real’s attacking third, made a pass to Ochoa, quickly tapped it back to Castañeda and Woll was there to clean it up.
“It was all my teammates,” Woll said. “Cameron with a beautiful run, Joseph with a beautiful pass to Cameron and all I could do is follow it in.”
With the with the Indians held El Camino Real scoreless for the first time this season and handed them their second loss of the season.
“From the beginning, we created a lot of opportunities,” Jovel said. “We are developing and I think each game we get a little better and we have a bunch of attackers so I think this year is going to be good.”
The Indians play Ventura at Hart High School at 3 p.m. next Thursday, Dec. 19th.