Thanks to a shrewd position change, Van Horn soccer is still perfect.
With his team in a scoreless tie at William Chrisman late in the second half Tuesday, Falcons coach Jesus Rodriguez moved sophomore Angel DeAvila from midfield to striker.
It immediately paid off.
DeAvila ran onto a precise pass in the Bears box from junior Reynalso Jean-Pierre and slid the ball past diving William Chrisman goalkeeper Brandon Kuhlman for the crucial goal in the Falcons 2-0 win as they moved to 5-0 on the season.
“I had to make that switch because DeAvila is a guy who can change the game,” Rodriguez said. “I told Reynalso when he went back in, ‘I need you to find the opportunity to find DeAvila,’ and that’s exactly what he did.”
For the first 63 minutes, both teams had a handful of scoring chances. But Van Horn controlled the midfield the majority of the match and it paid off in the 64th minute when Jean-Pierre’s pass perfectly led the streaking DeAvila.
“We were possessing the ball through the middle of the field,” DeAvila said. “At halftime, coach told us we needed to possess the ball instead of just kick it down the field, and that’s what we did before that goal. It was a combination in the middle that started in the back, then (Jean-Pierre) slipped the ball through. It was a good pass by him.”
Jean-Pierre said he expected DeAvila to make the run into the box.
“We practice building up an attack every single day in practice,” he said. “I know where my teammates are going to be when I get the ball. I found the open gap and just gave him the ball.”
Nine minutes later, Julio Rios rocketed a shot with his left foot from just outside the box into the side net that gave Van Horn a highlight-reel insurance goal.
“I don’t even know how I did that,” Rios said with a grin following the match. “But a goal is a goal and as a team we were doing well. This is the first time I’ve scored a goal like that.”
Playing with multiple starters out due to injury and some other starters missing a portion of the match due to discipline reasons, Rodriguez said it shows the character of his squad that it overcame more than just a game William Chrisman (2-3) squad.
“Whenever you don’t have all those guys, it disrupts the game plan and tempo of the game,” Rodriguez said. “We have a special team that can do something. Today, I don’t think you saw that, but good teams find a way to win. In the second half, we found the passes, we kept them on their side and were able to score a couple of goals. For what we did, I thought we did a phenomenal job. The guys are content. They said, ‘You know, we got an ugly one out, and let’s get reshaped for next week.’”
DeAvila noted the perfect start is nice for Van Horn, but the Falcons aren’t satisfied.
“It feels good, but we still have more to look forward to so we shouldn’t just leave it at this,” he said.