By Thomas Weltin
On Sept. 27 the Mound Westonka White Hawks boys soccer team traveled west for an important conference match with the Delano Tigers. The Tigers recently changed their soccer field into an artificial turf arena. As usual, Westonka displayed great confidence, which was appropriate given their record.
On quite a few occasions on the defensive side, Delano played an offsides trap, where the defenders quickly take two or three steps forward and leave attackers in an offsides position if they don’t move with them. It is tricky to see for the offense since the attackers look for the ball or where they are positioned to the goal. You have to find time for one quick glance to also check where you are relative to the defense. The defense has to make sure they play the trap in sync, otherwise it can backfire into a breakaway.
The White Hawks took control of the game early. Senior Philipp Weltin found himself in great position in the 10th minute but got caught in the offsides trap. Junior Andrew Abegglen hit the crossbar with a shot from the distance just a few minutes later. The Delano goalkeeper was busy from the start, defending crosses, corners and also a free kick from Abegglen from 25 yards.
In the 15th minute, senior co-captain Owen Mather battled and won the ball in midfield and took two quick steps to separate from defenders. Looking left and right, he saw his teammates well covered and decided to attempt to go at it alone. He caught two more defenders by surprise and, with some nifty moves, managed to get himself into great position for a hard shot from just inside the box that found the back of the net in the 18th minute.
Delano had a hard time penetrating the Westonka defense. They attempted a few shots on net from outside the penalty area that were saved by senior goaltender Jonathan Neve.
On the other end, the White Hawks continued to apply pressure. Senior Shane Yanta fired a shot that hit the post, and junior Aidan Maloney missed the rebound ever so slightly. At halftime, the score was 1-0 in favor of the White Hawks.
The Tigers tied the game in the 54th minute and for the next 10 minutes made a desperate attempt to get the lead. Westonka was caught off balance but weathered the storm thanks to excellent play by Neve.
After near misses by Mather with a free kick and by senior Julius Orenge with a powerful run, Maloney had another chance in front of the net with time running out. The White Hawks crossed the ball into the crease, and Maloney caught the deflected ball with his thigh and tapped behind the goal line. Those were three important points in the battle for the conference. The final score was White Hawks 2, Delano 1.
Just a day later, the White Hawks made their way out west for the second to last regular season game to meet the other Tigers in the conference, Hutchinson. Given the Tigers’ record, coach Bellamy decided to nurse injuries and give many players a chance to play.
For the most part, it was a one-sided affair. The highlights in a 6-2 victory included a hat trick by sophomore Joe Fasching and also junior Nels Larson making an appearance on the pitch a day before undergoing surgery on his injured knee. The other three goals were scored by Abegglen, Mather and Maloney.
Photos of the Hutchinson game by David Neve
[complete_gallery id=”71647″ class=”alignnone” ]