Almost giddy with excitement, first-year Southern Nash boys’ soccer coach Kurt Bienias watched as his team executed nearly a dozen passes in a row to start the game.
It was exactly what he wanted: A possession-oriented attack that moved forward as one structured unit.
But the Firebirds weren’t attacking with enough aggression, so eventually, patience wore thin on the field and Southern Nash reverted to a more direct approach Wednesday.
That caused problems for Northern Nash.
After spending much of the first half looking for his teammates almost to a fault, senior midfielder Moises Gonzalez took his own advice to heart – shoot – and found an unexpectedly large amount of space down the middle of the field.
One quick move, and his deadly left foot finally had room.
Gonzalez tallied the Firebirds’ first goal a little more than 50 minutes into the Big East Conference match at Northern Nash High School, and later, he laid a ball at the feet of Trey Jerman as Southern Nash remained unbeaten in conference play with a 2-0 victory.
“They just got impatient,” Bienias said of his own team. “And it worked to our advantage.”
Southern Nash (8-2-0 overall, 2-0-0 Big East) didn’t have the better of the play in the first half.
That, and the majority of the scoring chances, belonged to Northern Nash, which is led by three senior defensemen.
“We can defend,” Northern Nash coach Joe McCarthy said. “That’s not an issue. Our issue is attacking right now. We have to get better in attack.”
The Knights (5-2-1, 0-2), who went unbeaten in nonconference play, were able to counterattack following strong defensive play in the first half, but a missing defender hurt them twice in the second half.
Captain Joey Simpson came off the field just before Gonzalez’s goal.
He was again on the sideline when the Knights were caught ball-watching on Jerman’s tally.
“We just made simple, simple, little mistakes that cost us,” McCarthy said.
Northern Nash might have had the majority of the chances in the first half, but the Firebirds had a handful of quality scoring opportunities.
In the second half, Southern Nash took claim to both – the higher quality and quantity of chances.
The Knights didn’t record a second-half shot on goal, and their best scoring chances came on long attempts that were well wide of target.
With the defensive effort together, Southern Nash finally was able to be more aggressive with its attack – even if it wasn’t exactly the way Bienias would have hopped.
“They’re coming along. They had to get more aggressive,” Bienias said. “... (Northern Nash was) determined to keep us out. We had to find a way to be creative and attack with numbers.”
The way Bienias did that was by moving Gonzalez from midfield to forward, freeing up the talented senior who spent most of the night with a man mark.
Still early in the second half, Gonzalez found space and beat Northern Nash’s goalkeeper. Twenty minutes later, the Knights defense tried to deny space for Gonzalez, who found Jerman running down the left wing. With the ball on his feet inside the 18-yard box, Jerman was able to finish far side.
“If we move forward together ... and get opportunities, the team will follow up and they’ll keep trying to get one in,” Gonzalez said.
Justin Hite can be reached at 407-9951 or firstname.lastname@example.org