MEXICO — The Mexico varsity boys soccer team has eight seniors, but it only took one of them to seal the 1-0 victory on Senior Night over Solvay on Tuesday.
Noah Hiller, with 6:34 left in the second half, scored the game-winning goal after some commotion near Solvay goalkeeper Jonathan Gonzalez. Eric Hyde recorded the assist on the goal.
“I couldn’t be happier for a senior to get it on a night like tonight,” Mexico head coach James McKenna said. “Today was a game where we put together 80 minutes of an all-around team effort. Our boys were up for the task today and put together a good game.”
All eight seniors, who include Hiller, Evan Blunt, Ethan Clement, Thomas Gessner, Daniel Gowans, Joshua Hadcock, Zarrin O’Neill and Buddy Ruby, started the game for Mexico, “and have been starting for them all year,” McKenna said.
McKenna mentioned that a couple of the seniors had been on the team since they were freshmen, and a solid group had been part of varsity since their sophomore season. When he took over the program, he said the seniors were a big part of the team’s recent turnaround of getting “back on winning ways.”
“They’ve just been the world,” he said. “They’ve been a really big part of (the success) here at Mexico. I’m just really proud of them.”
During the first half, however, neither team hit the back of the net. Hadcock only had to stop one shot on goal, while the Tigers put five shots on goal. Mexico also had two corners that were to no to avail.
Mason Clarke had a few of the shots for Mexico, but all were stopped by Gonzalez or by the goalpost. McKenna added that Clarke was making some good runs and he was in the right spots, but Solvay was playing a tough defensive game.
During halftime, McKenna told the team to stick to the game plan: outwork the opponent, make smart plays and when the opportunities present themselves, get them in the goal.
“They grinded it out against a Solvay team that was trying to squeeze their way into the sectional tournament,” he said. “Our guys have bought into (the system) all season. Thankfully we were able to sneak one in there before overtime.”
Mexico put nine shots on net and had 10 corner kicks, while only allowing the Bearcats three shots on goal. Solvay had a single corner kick in the entire match.
Hadcock stopped all three shots, including some others that weren’t on goal and even making a sliding save, taking out one of Solvay’s forwards to avoid a shot. McKenna highlighted his goaltender’s ability to stay in the game, despite not seeing a lot of action.
McKenna also said that his back-four defensive lines, which has Carter Richardson, Gowans, Gessner and the team’s lone sophomore, Ayden Jensen, “has been incredible.”
“Josh stayed on his toes, stayed in the game and his communication was great,” he said. “It’s been like that all year. Our whole team has bought into (the defensive system).”
The Tigers will face the Christian Brothers Academy Thursday on the road. The Brothers are coming off a victory against Jordan-Elbridge that was also on Tuesday.
McKenna said the team will work on its finishing after a lot of missed opportunities during the game, “that probably should’ve (gone in).”
“We’re going to give CBA everything we everything we can to come out victorious,” he said. “I like the way the boys are playing. Hopefully we stay hot at CBA and can pull an upset.”