By Thomas Weltin
White Hawks vs. Holy Family Fire – 9.7.2017
On Sept. 7, the Mound Westonka High School boys soccer team faced the Holy Family Fire at home at Haddorff Field. It is always a special event when these teams face off, and it was no different on that evening.
Holy Family’s game plan was to not be intimidated by the unbeaten White Hawks and to dictate play. For a long while, they were successful, as Westonka was pressured into mistakes, which turned into an overall advantage in possession for the Fire and also good scoring chances. White Hawks senior goalie Jonathan Neve was tested in the fifth minute of play as a Holy Family forward got a dangerous shot off from 11 yards left of the goal.
After 10 minutes, the White Hawks got accustomed to their opponent. The midfield restored order, maintained possession, slowed things down and got into a rhythm. However, the Fire continued to play extremely confidently, and both teams exchanged punches up and down the field.
Neve defended the goalie box again in the 17th minute and picked a high ball after a dangerous corner. In the 31st minute, a free kick in dangerous position somehow found its way through the White Hawks wall and on net. Again, Neve had to stretch to prevent a goal.
There weren’t many good chances to report on the other side of the pitch in the first half. The White Hawks had a few opportunities but they either missed the net or their shots were saved by the Holy Family goaltender. The interesting part was to watch the White Hawks midfield fighting hard to regain control of the game.
That all changed after coach Wayne Bellamy made halftime adjustments. The White Hawks were a different team, came out with new energy and caught the visitors off guard.
Junior Andrew Abegglen recovered the ball at the goal line and used his heel to pass back to senior Philipp Weltin, who directly crossed over to eighth-grader Michael Doshan. On another play, junior Joe Fasching was a split second too late to the ball after a corner. In both cases, the Fire goalie made the save.
Midfielders junior Aidan Maloney, senior Owen Mather, senior Shane Yanta and ninth-grader Santiago Phommahaxay worked incredibly hard to force the Fire into defensive mode. The White Hawks’ defensive part of the field was closed for business for the opponent. Junior Nico Phommahaxay and seniors Hank Nagel, Victor Nelson and Matt Humbert did not allow Holy Family to threaten the White Hawks goal anymore.
Fasching hit the crossbar with a header in the 74th minute, but regular time ended scoreless 0-0.
In extra time, the White Hawks continued to control the game. The best scoring chance was a scramble as time ran out in the White Hawks box. It only lasted 3 seconds, but it seemed like an eternity until Neve found the ball and secured it. The final score was 0-0 between the White Hawks and Holy Family Fire.
White Hawks vs. Breck Mustangs – 9.9.2017
The Breck Mustangs were in town Sept. 9 on a beautiful Saturday night. The Top-5 ranked Mustangs are one of the toughest opponents year in and year out. When asked for comment before the game, White Hawks co-captain Mather stated that this game was “much more important than any game we have played so far this season.”
It seemed that the entire team felt the same way as the White Hawks were concentrated and fast and ambushed the surprised Mustangs right out of the gate. Mayhem ensued in the Breck box as Fasching beat the goalie, but a defender cleared the ball from the line. Weltin found his offensive colleague Abegglen, who could not get a shot off. Then Mather took a chance on a clearing attempt that fell short. The ball sailed inches past the goal.
The White Hawks continued to swarm the Breck goal. A penalty kick was awarded in the 16th minute, but it was saved by the very good Breck goalie. The display of good chances continued when Humbert took a ball direct from 8 yards after a corner in the 22nd minute. The Mustangs managed to finally break free from their half in the 31st minute, but the ball was cleared by Nico Phommahaxay.
The White Hawks scored a highlight reel goal in the 33rd minute when Weltin recovered the ball after a heavy press play in midfield, turned on a dime and quickly executed a 30-yard pass to Fasching on the left side. Fasching took off into the box after outrunning a Breck defender. He challenged the goalie, who came out of the net, and unselfishly passed the ball to Abegglen for an easy tap-in. That play took under 10 seconds and was just beautiful. 1-0 was the score at halftime.
Breck had the ball to start the second half, but Westonka did not give the Mustangs a chance to start any sort of pressure. It only took 5 minutes and the hometown team again posted up in familiar territory inside the Mustangs 30-yard line. The proverbial boot was on the throat of the opponent, and the White Hawks did not want to take any chances.
Weltin entered the box on the left side and fought a hard battle with a defender for the ball in the 45th minute. Both players leaned into each other and fell. The referee awarded another penalty shot to the White Hawks. This time Mather left no doubt and blasted the ball into the net to his low right side for the well-deserved 2-0.
After some soul searching, Breck was now desperate to get back into the game, and the White Hawks midfield was challenged to disrupt the Mustang attack. Maloney, Yanta and Santiago Phommahaxay had an extraordinarily good second half in midfield. They fought for every ball and made great decisions in order to keep the ball away from the White Hawks net. The few balls that made it past midfield were taken care of by the defense, except for a header in the 68th minute that went over the crossbar and a long distance shot 3 minutes later that was saved by goaltender Neve.
On the other end, sophomore Daniel Neve had a chance with a low and hard shot that missed low, and senior Julius Orenge executed a spectacular header that was saved as time ran out. The final score was 2-0 in favor of the White Hawks.
The 2017 White Hawks boys soccer team is highly entertaining to watch and also remains unbeaten. The team face Waconia in an away game on Sept. 14. On Saturday, Sept. 16, the White Hawks welcome dangerous Southwest Christian to Haddorff Field at 3 p.m. A chili cookoff will be held before the game as an extra incentive to attend. Eat and then cheer them on!
Photos of the Breck game by David Neve
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