Heralds fall to Maranatha in league opener
For the first 30 minutes of its Olympic League opener, the Whittier Christian boys’ soccer team matched Maranatha’s physicality and seemed to stay with the Minutemen stride-for-stride.
But as the game got into the later stages of each half, the Minutemen sustained the physicality and muscled two goals late in each half in putting away the Heralds 4-1, Tuesday afternoon at Whittier Christian High.
“For the first 15-20 minutes, I thought it was going okay,” said Matt Rojas, Whittier Christian head coach. “Honestly though, I don’t feel like we played our game today, maybe they were nervous for their first league game, maybe they felt entitled to something and didn’t realize they still needed to work for it.”
Maranatha forwards Jose Heredia and Ethan Prins complemented each other nicely as they set each other up for all four Minutemen goals.
But it took Maranatha (7-7-1, 1-0-0) a while to get past Whittier Christian goalkeeper Dylan Murphy, which was a big reason it took the Minutement until the 33rd minute to take the lead.
Immediately in the 3rd minute, Murphy dazzled with a diving save on a shot by Maranatha’s Erik Jensen. It was one of three big plays Murphy made to prevent a goal.
However, Heredia took advantage of a situation to put the Minutemen up in the 33rd minute. After beating two defenders, Prins lost control of the ball, which bounced right to Heredia, who nailed a shot while catching Murphy slightly out of position.
Prins made it 2-0 with a rebound goal off Murphy in the 39th minute.
“As time went on, the frustrations from not winning each play, scoring a goal, not tying the game up and their physicality just got us even more riled up,” Rojas said. “It kept us from even being composed there too, it was a rough game.”
Trying to stage a comeback, Rojas made some switches to start the second half, most notably, putting Murphy as an outside forward and replacing him in net with Jeff Hargrave.
The move nearly paid off as Murphy was set up nicely on a cross by Juan Carlos Reinis, but he couldn’t get a solid shot on goal.
“This is league, it’s all or nothing, we’re not trying to tie, we’re trying to score some goals,” Rojas said. “Jeff does great in goal, he’s more than reliable for us in net.”
In the 68th minute, Prins beat Hargrave off a pass from Heredia.
The Heralds’ lone goal was scored by Matthew Rada, who worked hard against a pair of defenders and put a nice touch on the ball with the left foot to skip it past Maranatha goalkeeper Jensen Hutto in the 79th minute.
However, the Heralds (1-12-0, 0-1-0) suffered a mental lapse, which allowed Heredia to quickly put in a goal less than a minute later, leading to the game’s final score.
“It was nice to see that in the last minute, we were able to score, granted they got it right back, which took away the whole thing,” Rojas said. “It was nice to see a little success there in a rough game.”
The Heralds continue Olympic League play with a road game at Heritage Christian, Thursday at 2:30 p.m.