Last night, the HHS boys varsity soccer team faced off against the Ryle High School Raiders at 8 P.M. for their second game in the 9th region tournament, unfortunately losing 3-1. Although that loss marked the end of the Birds’ run for state, the season still came with its merits.
After a late start to the season due to the KHSAA’s COVID-19 regulations, the boys began their season on September 8 with a game against Holy Cross. In contrast to last season, the boys did not only begin their competition season nearly a month late, (last year’s first game was August 14) but the boys were not permitted to practice together using the same balls until after their first game, making the match against Holy Cross the first time the team could see how they were going to operate as a unit.
Senior Hank Cook said, “I feel like early on in the season we were struggling to get numbers behind the ball, but as the season progressed and we switched formations we were much better defensively.”
The match with Holy Cross resulted in a 2-2 tie, leaving the Birds with both an optimistic view for the rest of the season along with the knowledge that they had room for improvement.
The boys’ first major win came just two days later with a 11-0 defeat against Holmes. Throughout the season, the boys ended up winning eight more games in contrast to only three games lost before the regional tournament. A season highlight included the boys’ 6-0 domination of Newport Central Catholic to win the 36th District Championship.
Sophomore Connor Mathis said, “I felt really good [after winning the District Championship] as I could tell we were doing great as a team and were going to be a strong group of guys going on.”
Heading into the regional tournament, the boys began with a rematch against Holy Cross, this time resulting in a 2-0 win. The game was not only important because it allowed the Birds to advance in the tournament, but it also demonstrated their season progression as they had only tied Holy Cross in their regular season game.
At Monday night’s match against Ryle, the Birds put up some fierce competition, with Senior Max Farris scoring one of only three goals scored against Ryle during the season so far. His goal was scored on a short corner play and was just the goal he needed to be the team’s top scorer for the season, with eight goals.
At halftime, the score was tied 1-1 due to a goal that Ryle had scored earlier off of a deflection. In the second half, the Birds fought hard, but Ryle was able to score with about 20 minutes remaining and then again with about five minutes left on the clock due to a lucky breakaway with Highlands pushing up on the offensive half of the field.
Despite the end of the Birds’ road to state, the team remains positive about next season and hopes to keep improving.
Junior Thomas Gray-Torsell feels, “Although we’re going to miss this year’s seniors and the talent and leadership they brought, I know the guys in the junior class are ready to step up and take on more responsibility. There are also a lot of talented underclassmen who can contribute to next year’s team.”