Photos by Thomas Forman
Varsity boys’ soccer defeated Alhambra 3-0 under the lights on Friday, December 8th. With the win, the Tigers improve to 5-1, marking their best start in four years.
Freshman striker Caleb Lee opened the scoring for the Tigers with a breakaway goal in the first half. Lee’s tenacious defense led to a steal and a one on one opportunity with the opposing keeper, in which he buried a strong shot into the bottom left corner. Despite open shots which led to a few goal scoring opportunities, Lee’s goal was the lone scoring play in the opening half.
Defensive standout Hank Rainey recorded his first goal of the season early in the second half. Rainey, the team’s co-caption and lock-down defender, strayed onto the opposing side of the field during a Tiger free kick, putting him in prime position for goal. Rainey didn’t let this rare opportunity go to waste, rearing back and rocketing the ball into the goal’s top left corner, doubling South Pas’ lead.
Later in the second half, senior Jack Renken added insurance to the South Pas lead, netting his first penalty kick of the year. While the goal added to Renken’s scoring total, now six on the year, it was Caleb Lee who was able to draw the foul in the box. Lee broke through the Alhambra defense but was tripped from behind as he was closing in on the keeper.
The team is showing solid progression from last year’s squad, as the Tigers, playing the same non-league opponents as 2016, are faring better against the same competition. Last year, South Pas barely edged Alhambra in a 1-0 contest. This year, the Tigers were more dominating in their conquest against the Moors, which follows the trend of the team’s play thus far. The team is outscoring its opponents 16-5 this season, a more eye popping number than through five games last year (6-5).
Earlier in the week, the team took one of two in back-to-back contests against Maranatha and Marshall. On Monday, South Pas dominated visiting Maranatha in a 5-1 victory. Caleb Lee and junior Jonah Beadle found the back of the net for the first time this year, propelling the Tiger’s to yet another preseason victory. Leading goal scorer Jack Renken also added a goal of his own to go along with three assists.
Under short rest, the Tigers fell to Marshall on their home field by a score of 3-0 on Tuesday. The Tiger’s were unable to muster any offense all game (only six shots on goal, compared to 13 against Maranatha), which eventually led to their first loss of the season. The effects of a doubleheader were not lost on the players, as the team struggled to keep up with the speed and athleticism on Marshall.
The team will continue its grueling non-league slate when they travel to Burbank next Tuesday, before heading home to host Schurr. Both matches will be “revenge” games for the South Pas, as a tie to Burbank and a loss to Schurr last year left a bitter taste in the mouth of the Tigers.