In its first game of the New Year, it took the Hart boys soccer team a couple minutes to find its footing against Royal High School at Hart on Friday.
The visitors caught the Indians off-guard in the opening minutes attacking down the left flank, but Hart’s backline and was able to clean up the early miscommunication to stave off the upset as the Indians rose to victory in a 6-1 win.
“Offensively, we played well,” said Hart head coach Adonay Jovel. “I think we still need to work with our defenders a little bit. Overall, we attacked very well, that’s our strength. We have to continue with what our strength is and try to fix the weaknesses.”
For the most part, the Hart (10-1 overall) attack was very aggressive from the opening whistle and it paid off as they scored four first-half goals. Lawrence Luna scored three of them five minutes apart to record his first hat trick of the season.
Junior forward Nicholas Woll started off the day’s scoring as he patiently waited in the middle of Royal’s penalty box for a teammate’s cross amongst Highlanders defenders.
Buying his time in the fourth minute of play, Woll made his move towards the goal and took a one-timer that rolled past the Royal goalkeeper to get the Hart crowd off their feet.
The joy, however, was short-lived as Royal tied the game up two minutes later to Jovel’s dismay.
“Not having a recovering player,” he said.
Royal (7-9) played a ball into the wide area, pushed numbers up and Hart players were not able to recover in time as the Highlanders tied the game at 1-1 just two minutes after the game’s opening goal.
The Indians ramped up their attack with Nathaniel Bello, Austin Brauer and Sebastian Ramirez slipping through passes into tight windows past the Royal players to find Luna and Woll up top.
That’s when Luna took over.
As Brayden Us Verdo controlled a ball on Royal’s baseline, Luna emphatically called for a pass. He received the pass, dribbled past two defenders, faked a shot with his right foot and fired a left-footer towards the near post that was never in doubt.
The goal was the first wave of Luna’s hat trick on the day as the senior forward scored three minutes later, in the 27th minute and again in the 28th minute. Off a volley, Luna took a shot that screamed into the back of the net to give the Indians a 4-1 lead heading into the half.
“It feels good. Luna said. “I’m stepped up for the team because we started off slow and I wanted to bring the team up.”
Picking things up in the 65th minute of play, the Hart offensive didn’t stop there as Jesus Alfonzo made an unguarded run into the visitor’s 18-yard box. Luna spotted him and crossed a high archer that Alfonzo finished to give the hosts a four-goal lead.
The opportunities didn’t end there as the Hart attack seemed to pick up more traction, but just couldn’t find the back of the net.
After Steven Metzler’s and Jared Soriano’s near goals in the 68th and 73rd minutes, off a rebound Bello capped the game’s scoring with a rebound with under two minutes left in the contest.
Hart opens up Foothill League play against Golden Valley at 3:15 p.m. at Golden Valley on Thursday.
“Be ready for us because we are coming in hard,” Luna said of the Foothill League slate.