Centerback Jared Kass’21 lines up a thru ball(Josh Tu’21/Media)
The boys soccer team notched another victory on Wednesday, September 23, defeating the Whitehall-Yearling Rams 1-0 at Hondros Field and upping its record to 4-2-2.
The Vikings’ defensive unit of senior captain Jared Kass, Noah Houston’24, Zach White’22, and Campbell Gwin’21 continued its solid play, repelling multiple scoring attempts from the technically-skilled Rams. Coach Leach augmented this unit with effective substitutes: Max Popp’22, Arden Preza’22, Ebube Nwoke’21, and Vassar Barney’21. Leach intermittently dropped pace-setting midfielder Jonah Houston’21 into the defensive half to counter the team’s loss of two seniors Finn Cassidy and Sonari Hart to injury.
The offensive unit demonstrated increased synergy between sophomores Leo Kass and Charlie Tuckerman in their attacks on the Ram’s goal. Fortifying this effort was the periodic transition of White to the forward position as his speed and tenacity relieved Tuckerman of the Ram’s double man-marking strategy.
The Vikings again unleashed a barrage early in the first half with Grant Edwards’21 narrowly missing the far post at the 11th minute mark. Leo Kass followed this with a header at the 21st-minute mark, which edged just over the top post. This near miss was followed by an excellent cross from Tuckerman to Kass’23 that was deflected by the Ram’s goalkeeper. While the ball remained in the Ram’s zone for the remainder of the first half, their limited attacks on the Viking’s goal were repelled by senior goalkeeper, Luke Budzik.
Wirth no goals at the half, Leach rotated his forwards to reduce the Ram’s consistent manmarking of Tuckerman. At the 68th minute mark, this strategy resulted in Tuckerman beating a sole defender and sprinting up the left sideline, resulting in a penalty just outside the box. Tuckerman’s ensuing free kick was centered inside the 10 yard mark, as Jared Kass earned a foul inside the box for a penalty kick. Jonah Houston stepped up, nailed the shot, and put our boys up 1-0. Although the Rams attempted to score multiple times in the remaining minutes, Budzik defended the goal.
The Vikings’ four consecutive victories after beginning the season 0-2-2 highlight the prescient remark by senior captain J. Kass before the season started: “I think we’re ready to take that next step forward. We have a lot of young guys this year. Hopefully, as the season goes on, we’ll get better and be able to make another deep run.” J. Houston reiterated these positive statements in a more recent quote: “I think we have a lot of motivation and energy going into the rest of the season. We are unbeaten in our last six games, and we are only getting better.”
Regardless of how the season ends, it is apparent this year’s team is enjoying the ride. Coach Leach, when queried in the preseason about his team’s success (182 wins and 9 district titles) attributed it to the team’s chemistry: “We have a really good group of guys. They become bonded together as a group and want to play for each other.” J. Houston echoed this sentiment: “It’s just a great group of guys. We love to hang out with each other. We just try to come out here and have a good time.”
The team’s good times continued on Saturday, September 26, as the Vikings handedly defeated Bishop Hartley High School 3-1. The Vikings play Buckeye Valley High School at Buckeye Valley Middle School at 6 PM on Wednesday, September 30.