By Darren Lum
The beautiful game didn’t look very pretty when the Red Hawks varsity soccer team hosted the Thomas A. Stewart Secondary School Griffins on Thursday, Oct. 8 at the Gary G. Brohman Athletic Field in Haliburton.
Taking a point in a physical game where players regularly crashed into others with and without the ball, the Hawks are seeing this tie as a victory, particularly after it looked out of reach for the fledgling varsity squad – with only four senior players – in the second half.
Head coach Bob Schmidt loved his team’s resiliency and, most importantly, how it is coming together as a unit at this point in the nine-game season after this hard fought 3-3 tie.
“We’re working as a team. We’re not yelling at people for making mistakes and that kind of thing. We got a positive atmosphere and this game will help,” he said.
Haliburton matched well with the visiting side from Peterborough, who are also comprised of mainly juniors and haven’t won yet either, only tying a pair of games.
This game gives Schmidt something to be optimistic about since the other games have been blowouts, except for the team’s first 5-1 loss to Holy Cross, which was competitive for the Hawks despite the score.
“Maybe there is another team that we can compete with yet,” he said.
He expects the Hawks will have a strong chance at a win against the Spartans of Lindsay Collegiate Vocational Institute when they play their last regular season game Lindsay to end the Kawartha High School Soccer League regular season.
In the opening minutes, the Hawks controlled the game and came close to taking a one-goal lead with several shots on net and three scoring chances – two from senior Caleb Schmidt and one from Ethan Carl.
The Griffins withstood the offensive barrage and then opened the scoring with a goal, finding the back of the net soon after. They quickly added two more goals for a 3-0 lead before the midway point of the first half.
Caleb scored the Hawks’ first goal while surrounded by a pair of defenders inside the box. He was given a nice cross by Carl, who eluded his mark with a deft play to move the ball from the corner to his senior teammate inside the box.
On the sidelines, family and other Hawks athletes cheered the team’s hard fought goal as if it was a game-winner.
Schmidt then added another, scoring off a shot after he broke away from his mark from the sideline to narrow the deficit to one, 3-2.
Minutes later when the Hawks were on their heels they managed a few runs with the ball deep in the Griffins’ zone. On one of those runs Grade 9 Daniel Rivard earned a penalty shot when he was taken down on a partial breakaway inside the box in front of the Griffins’ net.
Schmidt took the penalty shot and didn’t leave anything to chance, as he powered it home low to tie the game, 3-3.
The Hawks continued to hold defensively, coming out on Griffins’ players, taking away time and space on the visitors, who were looking for an opening to get a clean shot off.
Minutes left in the game, the Hawks goalkeeper Brendan Taylor saved the game when he charged out on a Griffins striker, sliding across and blocking the low portion of the net, making the save.
“He’s learning to be a little more aggressive,” coach Schmidt said. “He made some really great saves down there.”
Everybody on the red and white deserved credit for this great game, he said.
Both Schmidt brothers, Ben and the older Caleb, showed they could match the other team’s aggression and even initiate when they wanted. It set the tone, as the ref permitted the physical contact, which worsened as the game progressed.
“They got aggressive. When you’re down 3-0 someone’s got to step it up,” he said, referring to Caleb, who executed on three opportunities for all of the team’s goals.
Others that stood out this game and the season is defender Jackson Picco, who has been a reliable and solid defender.
There are four games left in their season.
Schmidt appreciated the never-say-die attitude of his squad.
“They were hungry. We played aggressive, I thought. More so than we have in other games,” he said.
Caleb, who missed the team’s first two games of the season, is proving to be a catalyst for the other players.
“Him being aggressive is helping,” he said.
This week is busy for Haliburton, as they play a pair of games at home. On Tuesday, the Red Hawks host the St. Peter’s Catholic Secondary School Saints and then on Thursday host Port Hope High School. Both games start at 3 p.m.