Handley boots James Wood in boys' soccer

WINCHESTER — After a slow start, the Handley’s boys’ soccer team took the momentum and decisively beat rival James Wood 5-2 Tuesday at the Handley Bowl.

The win also gives the Judges (3-1, 2-0) momentum in the Class 4 Northwestern District race. The Colonels drop to 2-2 and 0-2 in district.

“We had several guys go down today and it was good to see some guys who have not logged many minutes really come through for us today,” Handley coach Scoot Bucey said.

For most of the 80-minute contest, it was a battle for momentum with each team taking turns. The Judges struck first thanks to a foul by Colonels goalkeeper Paul Ebersole on Owen Matttens in the penalty area. Mattens’ subsequent penalty kick in the 13th minute of the first half gave the Judges a 1-0 lead.

Handley expanded its lead to 2-0 late in the first half when Juan Hernandez smashed a ball from 40 yards out past Ebersole.

One critical problem for the Judges was that their starting goalkeeper Adam Pollak went down with an injury midway through the first half and never returned. That put a lot of pressure on backup keeper Henry Reynoso-Paiz, but the junior was able to hold his own with James Wood for the rest of the game.

“We lost our starting goalkeeper early in the game and Henry has been working really hard and did a great job out there today,” Bucey said. “Those two goals in the second half were in no way his fault.”

With the Judges holding a 2-0 lead, Wood needed to force the attack. The Colonels answered with a strong early second half that took the momentum away and sliced the Judges’ lead in half.

Just two minutes into the half, Todd Schneider headed the ball into the Handley goal from eight yards out.

“It was really crowded near the goal when that ball came in but I was able to get my head on it and get us on the scoreboard,” Schneider said.

With the Colonels back in the game, both teams battled furiously with little offensive results over the next 20 minutes. The Judges, however, slowly were able to retake the momentum and with 16:30 left in the game they struck again.

This time it was a perfect header by Tucker Heglas from five yards out off a cross from the right wing by Cris Trejo. Heglas struck again one minute later with a shot from 35 yards out to put Handley up 4-1.

“Cris just sent in a perfect ball,” Heglas said. “I was able to get my head on it and get it past their keeper. We had lost some momentum in the second half but I think those two goals got it back for us.”

Handley scored again with 11:20 to play to put the game out of reach. Alex Pinon-Santos got the score when he headed the ball out of Ebersole’s hands from three yards out to put the Judges up 5-1.

‘We started the second half killing our own momentum in that we were dribbling too much,” Bucey said. “That slowed us down. When we started moving the ball around more our offense became a lot more dangerous.”

James Wood got the contest’s final score as the recipient of an own goal.

“It was a very hard-fought game but you just can’t give a team as good as Handley a two-goal lead and expect to be successful,” Colonels coach Brian Sullivan said. “After halftime, we talked to our players and made some adjustments that worked, but we just weren’t able to sustain it.”

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