By Thomas Weltin
White Hawks vs. Waseca Bluejays – 8.29.17
Waseca was the opponent at Haddorff Field on Aug. 29 for the Mound Westonka High School boys soccer team. Last year, the White Hawks got beat handily in Southern Minnesota, so everyone looked forward to the rematch on home turf.
This being the White Hawks’ third game in just five days, you could tell from the start that the team was starting to gel. The midfield, being in charge of carrying the ball forward and distributing, played crisp soccer and was aware of the positioning of their teammates. Junior Joe Fasching converted his first chance after four minutes of play with a low shot from 16 yards out to give the White Hawks a 1-0 lead.
Waseca played very clever and patient ball and was a bit of a matchup problem for the White Hawks. Once in the attack zone inside 30 yards, the Bluejays put their game into gear and were suddenly very dangerous. A breakaway over the left side gave White Hawks senior goalie Jonathan Neve all he could handle. He made the save by coming out of the net and closing the angle for the Waseca attacker.
On the other end, MWHS junior Andrew Abegglen missed the net from 10 yards, and three White Hawks attackers missed the ball in the box after a free kick by senior Owen Mather from the left side. While the number of chances was clearly in Westonka’s favor, it only takes one mistake to get punished. Waseca capitalized on a communication error on defense and converted a picture-perfect, fast counter attack to earn a 1-1 tie in the 30th minute.
Afterward, the Bluejays came out of their shell and proved to be an equal opponent in terms of ball possession. The half ended after White Hawks junior Aidan Maloney put a cross from the left side onto the right foot of ninth-grader Santi Phommahaxay, and Abegglen tried a direct kick from only 6 yards out. Both attempts missed the net.
A stunned hometown crowd saw Waseca score for the 2-1 lead right after halftime. The White Hawks then pressed much better and turned up the speed of the game, which was rewarded in the 51st minute.
Senior Hank Nagel executed one of his dangerous and long throw-ins into the Waseca box. The defense tried to clear the ball, but it landed right in front of the very active senior Shane Yanta. Yanta wasted no time and sent it into the net from 17 yards, leaving the goalie no chance for a save. The score was now 2-2.
Phommahaxay tried to capitalize on a goalie mistake in the 78th minute, but the score remained tied to close out the regular time. Extra time was played to determine a match winner, but 2-2 was the final score after a long and exciting evening of soccer.
White Hawks vs. New Prague Trojans – 8.31.17
On Aug. 31, the White Hawks travelled to their first game away from home for a tilt with Wright County opponent New Prague. The White Hawks had two obstacles to overcome: 1) It was their fourth game in six days, and 2) The Trojans play on artificial turf, which is a big change in the game. The ball handles and bounces much differently on turf. After three games on grass and no time to practice on turf, it was going to be interesting to see the team adapt to the change.
New Prague made the first appearance in the White Hawks’ box, but senior defender Victor Nelson made a heads up play to clear the ball out of the danger zone.
The White Hawks got used to the turf after 10 minutes and tested mainly the left side of the New Prague defense with Maloney serving the ball to Fasching, who penetrated the box time and time again. In the 13th minute, a throw-in by Nagel was extended in the air with a header by senior Philipp Weltin. Fasching was in the right place to tap the ball into the net for the lead. It was a wonderful goal and looked like a designed play.
After a White Hawks near miss in the 24th minute, Maloney fought for the ball and entered the box. His shot under heavy pressure hit the left goal post. Weltin crashed the net and converted the rebound for the 2-0 lead 32 minutes into the game. That was also the score at halftime.
The White Hawks started the second half with near miss by senior Matt Humbert after a corner by Mather. This play could have blown the doors open, but the Trojans used the immediate counter attack for a goal to make the score 2-1 in the 49th minute. Neve was without a chance for a save.
It was evident that the White Hawks were getting tired due to the grueling game schedule and fast turf. Coach Wayne Bellamy ordered his troops to play more into the midfield and less aggressively up front to save strength and to have a numbers advantage on defense. They waited patiently for chances, which were now mainly breakaways.
Abegglen was responsible for the 3-1 and, right afterward, scored the prettiest goal so far in the 2017 campaign on a breakaway. Eighth-grader Michael Doshan served a long ball, the New Prague goalie came out of his net and Abegglen beat him with a beautiful shot from the left side of the box under the crossbar from 16 yards out. Yanta ended the evening with his second goal of the season in the 76th minute.
The final score was White Hawks 5, New Prague 1. The next home game is on Thursday, Sept. 7 against rival Holy Family.