The game-winning goal was important for Hart boys soccer in its game against West Ranch on Thursday, but the first goal it scored was perhaps more important.
As the Indians fought for an edge at West Ranch High School, breaking through in the waning minutes of the first half was the spark they needed to make their way to a 3-2 win.
“It was something we definitely needed,” assistant coach Alex Bernal said. “I think going into the half 2-0 with their heads not in the right space, it really helped us with the goal towards the end of the first half. It gave us some hope.”
Coming off of two straight ties, the Wildcats came out strong, winning one-on-one battles and generating scoring chances.
Jacob Gendein corralled a rebound to the left of the net and scored the first goal 12 minutes into the game. Five minutes later, he tapped in another goal through traffic to give West Ranch (2-5-2 overall, 0-1-1 in Foothill League) a 2-0 lead.
“The first half was great,” said first-year head coach Mike Kane. “We controlled the ball. We controlled the pace. You know, we got some opportunities and they went in for us which was nice.”
The Indians (12-2-1, 2-1-1) got on the board just before the first half came to a close. In stoppage time, they were given a penalty kick, which Joseph Ochoa scored on.
The goal set Hart up for a completely different mentality to start the second half.
“It was just about not giving up,” said the Indians’ Nicholas Woll. “We went down two in the first half, which was unfortunate. We got to go back and then from there which was momentum, it was the drive, it was the want to win.”
Lawrence Luna had a chance to even the score 10 minutes into the second half, but West Ranch defender Gabriel Quinonez slid in for the save at the last moment. Luna made another run in the 50th minute and this time was successful on a long shot from just outside the box.
“I think everyone just put the team over the individual and they started to play as a team,” Bernal said.
Woll was able to score the game-winner in the 61st minute on a header and help the Indians bounce back from Tuesday’s loss to Canyon.
“He’s a player that definitely leads by example,” Bernal said of Woll. “He’s out there working when things aren’t going well still working and I think it’s contagious to the rest of the players.”
Bernal has been serving as the head coach for the last week as regular head coach Adonay Jovel is in Baltimore for a conference. Bernal has been working with the team since the summer and things are starting to click for the team, as was seen in the win over the Wildcats.
“It sometimes takes difficult games for us to realize that we’ve got to step it up,” Bernal said. “I think the game’s the best experience for them to learn that. As a coach we can town repeatedly, you know, we have to be ready, bring our ‘A’ game but until that happens sometimes that’s what it takes.”
Hart next hosts Saugus on Tuesday at 3:15 p.m. and West Ranch will be at Golden Valley on the same day at the same time.