Outside of the sideways rain and swirling wind, it was a good opening weekend for the Thunder Mountain boys’ soccer team.
Falcons forward Brandon Monges found the ball on a breakaway down the center of the field and chipped the ball over the goalie’s head into the back of the net to give the Falcons a 1-0 victory on Saturday afternoon at cold, rainy Thunder Mountain High School.
The win was especially sweet following a 1-1 draw on Friday night after a questionable call in the box on Thunder Mountain sophomore Travis Johnson resulted in a successful Sitka penalty kick in the final minutes. Monges scored the Falcons lone goal in that game as well.
“I fell on him and they called the foul (Friday),” Johnson said. “Hey, Sitka’s a really good team with good seniors. We just played well (Saturday).”
Thunder Mountain’s first-year head coach Ry Walters said he felt his team rebounded well after the disappointing draw.
“We played incredibly hard (Friday), and if we keep doing that the results will come,” he said. “I think that’s what happened today. We got a good win, and we’ll go from there.”
Neither team seemed to gather much momentum throughout Saturday’s contest. The elements, combined with early season rust, produced some sloppy moments, and this game had “draw” written all over it.
While the offenses weren’t clicking for much of the afternoon, the defenses held firm over the duration of the match. But one last mistake by the Sitka back line was all Monges and the Falcons needed to come out on top and exit the weekend with a 1-0-1 record.
After labeling Friday’s draw a heartbreaker, Walters said it was up to his team to get past the tie and concentrate on what lies ahead.
“We just focused on what we can control. We let the refs do their business and we’ll do our business,” he said. “I feel we have a lot of things clicking. We’re a young team, still, and only time is going to improve what we have going right now, and I think we will improve.”
The Thunder Mountain attack looked a bit off, timing-wise, but the defense and goalkeeper Matt Seymour were strong from the start. Seymour only allowed the one goal, a penalty kick, over the team’s first two games.
Friday’s matchup was much of the same. Both teams had difficulty with the inclement weather as neither was able to get the offense going, especially in the first half. But Monges capitalized on a good opportunity on goal and put his team in front 1-0 early in the second half.
Sitka began to pick up momentum late in the game as it pushed to get the equalizer in the late stages. With the ball bouncing away from the goal along the endline, Johnson appeared to have his legs taken out from under him by a Sitka attacker before landing on his opponent. The referee saw the action in the box and decided to award the penalty shot to Sitka, which then put the ball past Seymour in the lower right corner to tie the game.
But Walters said this was a good experience for his young team, and he looks forward to the next challenge.
The Falcons will play a strong South Anchorage team at 3:15 p.m. on Saturday as the Wolverines come to town to take on both Thunder Mountain and Juneau-Douglas later this week.