MEXICO — The Mexico varsity boys soccer team defeated Phoenix 3-0 Saturday in the championship game of the annual Mexico Boys Soccer Kickoff Tournament.
Mexico’s Evan Blunt, who scored the first goal of the game, was named the tournament’s most valuable player.
Joshua Hadcock, Daniel Gowans, and Logan LaFlamm were all named to the all-tournament team from the Tigers.
“Last year, we were very disappointed to lose in the championship game,” Mexico coach James McKenna said. “To come out here and win it, the guys are in good spirits.”
Mexico’s defense was crucial in the entire matchup. Goalkeeper Hadcock needed to make only two saves in the shutout.
A lot the game was spent either in midfield or in the Tigers’ offensive half, allowing Hadcock to calmly direct his defense. It was a big part of the position, said McKenna.
“Luckily, he’s got a good crew in front of him, so he doesn’t have to be too busy,” he said. “But his communication skills are really helping our defensive lines back there.”
McKenna said his backfield, which consists of Thomas Gessner, Gowans, Ayden Jensen, and Carter Richardson, adapted into the team’s new defensive shape.
“Our pace in the back is one of our strong suits,” McKenna said. “We were able to match that today against a very fast forward line from Phoenix.”
The Tigers’ pressure in their offensive third of the field led to a lot of turnovers, mainly forced by seniors Noah Hiller and Buddy Ruby. Those turnovers led to several scoring opportunities for Mexico. One of the turnovers allowed for Ruby to register an assist for Blunt’s goal, which went to the lower right side of the net past Phoenix goaltender Josh Bianchi (9 saves).
Also scoring for Mexico were LaFlamm (with Hiller assisting), and by Ethan Clement, who was assisted by LaFlamm.
“We high pressed them and were able to get a couple takeaways that way,” McKenna said. “When we had our opportunities, we were able to finish them.”
Following Mexico’s loss to Cazenovia last week, McKenna and his team had to “revisit some things,” and eventually stepped up to win the tournament, which also included a 2-0 victory over Solvay on Thursday.
“The past two games for this tournament, it’s been a gritty performance by my guys,” McKenna said. “The kids actually stepped up and bought into the game plan.”
McKenna said he is looking toward his two senior leaders, Hiller and Ruby, to help maintain the team’s momentum following the tournament win and continue to help their teammates buy into the game plan for the rest of the season.
“They’ve been on the team for four years. They’re expected to step up,” McKenna said. “With their success comes our success, so they’re a big part of our team.”
Mexico (3-1) will host Jordan-Elbridge at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“The guys, they’re flying right now. They’re all smiles with this win,” McKenna said. “We’re just going to keep rolling with the punches.”