Harvard shuts out Burlington Central
The Harvard Hornets visited the Burlington Central Rockets on homecoming weekend and added insult to injury be defeating the youthful and wounded Rockets 2-0 to earn sole possession of the Big Northern Conference East Division boys soccer lead.
"We always have very high expectations every year," Harvard head coach David Abel said. "We know every year this conference is going to be a battle and a grind, so coming in and winning here where we've struggled in the past means a lot to us."
The Hornets came out much more aggressively on offense than the Rockets, which Abel said was a combination of design and tempo of the game.
"I think it was a combination of both, actually," Abel said. "As you approach things, you want to get off to a get start because that's an area we've struggled at lately. I think the boys took it to heart and really stepped it up because we knew it was going to be hard fought game, so I think we came in ready to go today."
The Rockets tried to make the best of the match despite missing key players due to injuries and younger players being forced into action, or other players trying to battle through injuries. Despite the challenges, Rockets head coach Michael Gecan wasn't about to make excuses.
"I hate to make excuses, but we had people sitting because of injuries and people playing with injuries," Gecan said. "I realize that injuries are part of it, but it's rough. I think the players need to ask themselves what they can learn from this game today. We need to learn from our mistakes. We're not getting enough shots, we're playing too hesitant, and we're just not clicking."
The Hornets (13-4, 10-0) scored their first goal at 34:30 in the first half when senior Jerry Martinez centered it up, started to his right, and then kicked the ball into the left side of the net with his left foot from 15 yards away.
The Rockets seemingly played defensively the first half, but Gecan acknowledged that might have been more of a result of the inexperience than by design.
"Today we asked more from our substitutes and hoped they could make a difference," Gecan said. "But unfortunately, a lot of them are young and a little scared to make the jump (to varsity). I can come up with excuses, but the students need to ask themselves how they want to be remembered."
The Rockets (8-5, 6-2) started the second half being more aggressive on the offensive side of the ball, managing to keep the ball in the Hornets' half of the field for nearly 15 of the half's first 20 minutes.
At the 37-minute mark of the second half, Rockets freshman Jack Schramme passed off to Stefan Jochum, who shuffled it over to Cole Tecza for a kick that was blocked. Nearly a minute later, Jochum centered it over to Luke Schramme for a header goal attempt that was also blocked.
The Rockets had an opportunity to tie the game at the 23-minute mark when Aaron Burnside kicked the ball high from midfield about 10 yards from the center of the Hornets' goal. Jack Schramme jumped high to head the ball over to the left, but landed hard and had to leave the game shortly.
The Hornets found the net again with 18:42 left in the game when junior Mauricio Mercado kicked the ball hard into the right side of the net from 10 yards out for a 2-0 lead.
The Rockets found it difficult to get good shots on goal, and perhaps their best shot came with 4:10 left in the game. Luke Schramme raced after a ball rolling toward the Hornets' goaltender, and as the goaltender scooped up the ball, he dropped the ball just off to the left side of Schramme. Schramme attempted to stop and plant to kick it in, but the Hornets' goaltender pounced on the ball to end the play.
As the season progresses, the Rockets will be looking for the younger players to add value, and Jochum indicated that it's really as simple as getting physical and dirty.
"I think once you get in on a good tackle right away that gets your confidence up," Jochum said. "You really start getting into the game and getting better passes off once you get in on a good tackle. We just really need to play better as a team and not as individuals. Anything less than state will be a disappointment."