Johnny Russell ’22
The Tigers’ dream of playing Virginia Prep League games became a reality Tuesday afternoon when the Varsity Soccer Team faced off against the Cougars of Collegiate in Richmond. However, it wasn’t the normal prep league game that the team expected. Due to requests from Collegiate, the game was played in a 9v9 format instead of the standard 11v11 in order to decrease the population density on the field. Captain Charlie Ferrari’21 had this to say about the new change: “Obviously we’ve been playing 11v11 this whole season, and considering we only had one day of practice playing 9v9, I’d say we battled pretty hard.”
From the get-go, both teams played with high-energy, forcing turnovers and making strong tackles. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Collegiate made the breakthrough with a shot in the box that found the net due to an unlucky touch from Ferrari. Collegiate’s quick offensive counter-attacks proved effective once again when they eased out to a 2-0 lead halfway through the 1st half. However, the Tigers responded brilliantly to the adversity. After Coach Len Mills had urged the Tigers to send guys up the field, Samuel Crosby’22 played an accurate through-ball at the end of the half onto the speedy Trey Hanson’22, whose calm touch into the back of the net closed the deficit to one goal heading into halftime.
The Tigers came out the same way they finished the second half, putting the Cougars under immense pressure. Led by John Shottes’23, the Tigers came close to scoring on a few occasions on turnovers from Collegiate’s backline. Mid-way through the half though, the Tigers lost motivation when the Cougars scored to make it 3-1. The hope of getting an away result didn’t creep back in until the 89th minute when captain Meade Seay’21 crossed in a beautiful ball to fellow captain Tommy Handelsman’21, who confidently slotted the ball in the goal. The Tigers’ resurgence proved too late in coming, as they dropped a close one 3-2 to the Cougars.
After the game, Handelsman was disappointed with the result but was excited for what’s to come: “I thought that we needed to respond better to the challenges Collegiate gave us, especially after they scored the third goal. I think this is a great learning experience for us because next week we are playing St. Chris. I’m so excited for that game.”
Handelsman isn’t alone. Sitting at 5-1-1 on the season, the Tigers look forward to a competitive game next Tuesday in Richmond, where the Tigers will play at St. Chris in the standard 11v11 format. The game will be an intense one, as the Tigers look to secure their sixth victory on the season after tying St. Christopher’s 1-1 last year.