Season recap: Varsity boys soccer

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Joshua Halper

Varsity Boys Soccer seniors right before their Senior Night game.

Playing a varsity sport is the last chance to prove yourself to collegiate or even professional scouts during your last two years of high school. The connections built here can last you a lifetime.

Let’s dive into a recap of the 2021 varsity soccer season.

The ‘Rines opened the regular season with a game away against the Seneca Valley Screamin’ Eagles, but lost 4-0. The away game streak continued with a match at Clarksburg High School. An early goal for senior Assou Kowo and a penalty goal at the death for junior Anthony Hernandez gave varsity their first win of the season.

“I couldn’t believe I scored the winning goal, all I was thinking was that I have to score to show them who’s boss. It was such a relief when I scored it,” Hernandez said.

Varsity played their next game at home against the Wootton Patriots, but a brace from Kowo wasn’t enough to surmount a 6-2 defeat. The loss streak continued at home against the Springbrook Blue Devils and away against the Rockville Rams, but the ‘Rines weren’t ready to give up. A first goal of the season for junior Joel Tchalim and Kowo’s fourth kept varsity motivated through their next game at home against the Damascus Hornets. Diving saves from junior Deacon Buchanan and the Damascus goalkeeper kept the game deadlocked through double overtime.

The goals just kept on coming for Kowo, with one against the Poolesville Falcons and another against the Kennedy Cavaliers, bringing him up to six on the season.

“I’m very lucky to have teammates that were really good at finding ways to get the ball to me no matter what. They created great opportunities for me to score,” Kowo said.

The next game came at home against the Magruder Colonels, but a 6-0 loss left varsity pushing to make a comeback against the Paint Branch Panthers, which they did with a 2-1 victory thanks to goal number seven for Kowo and a second for Tchalim.

“Some advice that one of my coaches always used to tell is that ‘you play the way you practice’, so I learned to always take practice seriously and to use that time to help improve your game,” Kowo said.

The last regular-season game stayed at home against the Churchill Bulldogs, but with emergency goalkeeper senior Oscar Benitez in net due to a red card, the ‘Rines fell to 2-1-9 (win-tie-loss) in a 3-0 loss.

“[Playing as goalie] felt just like old times. I missed being in the goal and it was fun. That whole game I was saying to myself that I couldn’t let any goals in,” Benitez said.

Coach Joshua Halper led the ‘Rines to the playoffs, which came quickly for varsity with their first game being a quarterfinal matchup away against the Damascus Hornets. The game ended in a 4-0 loss, unfortunately spelling the end of varsity’s season.

“The only regret I have this season is not appreciating how fun it was until it was over,” Kowo said.

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