By Luke Stone ’20
Although the school year hadn’t officially started, the Varsity Soccer team saw its first official action of the season this weekend, playing two quick games in the inaugural Woodberry Forest Invitational. After several tune-up scrimmages against Landon and Wakefield, the Tigers kicked off their 2019 campaign with a 4:30 PM Friday afternoon game against Annapolis Area Christian School.
The Tigers had a couple quality chances that didn’t go their way in the first half, and the Jack Sloan ’20-led backline stood strong against Liberty University commit Luke Eberle of the Eagles. After a 0-0 stalemate at halftime, the Tigers switched to a 4-4-2 formation featuring Jake Benslimane ’22 and Hugh Monsted ’20 up top. Finally, in the seventieth minute, the Tigers broke through when Benslimane drew a penalty at the top of the eighteen yard box. Sloan beautifully placed the PK in the top left corner to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. Only a few minutes later, the Tigers weaved together several beautiful passes in a combination play that started with Benslimane, went down into the penalty area with Monsted, who flicked the pass onto Owen Pudsey ’20. Pudsey waited and gave the ball back to Monsted, who passed it into the back of the net to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.
The lead wouldn’t last long, though, as Annapolis would quickly answer with two straight goals and net the eventual winner in stoppage time.
The tournament wasn’t over for the Tigers’ though, as they would still play bright and early the next morning (10 AM) against local club side Orange Fire. Because of injuries and fatigue, head coach Len Mills employed many new faces, giving quality playing time to Colm Dodd ’20, Johnny Russell ’22, Luke McNabb ’20, Ward Cozart ’20, and Gabe Brown ’20.
Although the Fire got the game’s first goal in the seventeenth minute, it wouldn’t take long for the Tigers to answer. On a beautiful assist from Monsted, Benslimane equalized with a powerful right-footed shot to the bottom left corner. In the second half, Trevor Daniel ’20, the team’s former manager, gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead in the sixty-fifth minute, only for the Fire to answer and score in the game’s final ten minutes.
After two golden-goal extra time periods went scoreless, penalty kicks would have to decide the game. This is where goalkeeper Jack Zollweg ’20 took the spotlight in this story. Zollweg had started in place of the injured Zack Woods ’20 and played admirably in regulation and extra time, recording what appeared to be at least ten or so saves, including three in the final ten minutes of the second half. But as effective as Zollweg had been in regulation, nothing could have been as impressive as his performance in the penalty shootout. The keeper, making his varsity debut, saved an incredible three of four shots as the Tigers won 3-1 in penalties to take third place.