Benefield: Montgomery boys leave frustrating 1st half behind in 3-0 soccer victory
HEALDSBURG — It must have been a heckuva halftime speech by Montgomery coach Jon Schwan.
The Montgomery boys soccer team did everything in the first half besides score. They hit the crossbar. They hit the post. They sailed a couple of shots sky-high. And they forced the Healdsburg ’Hounds goalkeeper, senior Orion Von Rohr, to make a number of athletic saves.
So they could tick all of those boxes, but the scoreboard above Healdsburg’s sparkling — and apparently slippery — new field after 40 minutes of North Bay League-Oak Division soccer Friday night still read 0-0.
But Schwan didn’t go fiery. He didn’t crack a clipboard. He simply pointed some out basic math and perhaps a few rules of thumb for soccer: When you get that many chances, something has got to give.
“At halftime we just took inventory,” Schwan said. “The chances were there. We get one or two of those goals in the first half and we probably feel a little different, so it’s easy to get frustrated. But we just have to stay the course is what I told the boys, and get back to playing a little bit higher tempo.”
Consider the message delivered.
Five minutes into the second half, Vikings sophomore Jack Medin sent a free kick into the box from about 35 yards out. Junior Zack Batchelder flicked it with his head over Von Rohr’s outstretched glove. There was nothing he could do.
It was then that Schwan yelled from the sideline to his players: “Goals change games.”
“What I meant was we have to be prepared for them to maybe come out be a little more aggressive,” he said. “But at the same time, with who we are, when we score, I think we kind of get our mojo going a little bit.”
It got going.
Two minutes later, instead of steeling themselves against an aggressive push by the ’Hounds, the Vikings were again on the attack. Senior Oscar Roque challenged a Healdsburg defender just past midfield, won the ball and had a one on one with Von Rohr. Roque slotted one into the corner to put the Vikings up 2-0.
Seven minutes after that, it was Batchelder again. Junior Oswaldo Rojas sent a pass through to Batchelder, who flicked the ball forward with his chest to keep it away from a clinging defender.
In about two strides, Batchelder had dropped his man and was streaking at the goal alone. It was another one on one with Von Rohr and another Vikings goal.
“He’s a 130-pound wet bar of soap. He’s slippery,” Schwan said of Batchelder. “He’s such a smart playmaker, such a smart finisher. That’s why he has 20 goals this year already.”
The 3-0 win puts the Vikings in complete control of the NBL-Oak. The Vikings are 12-0-2 overall and 5-0 in league.
Herbert Lemus’s ’Hounds did what they could, but the Vikings are simply loaded.
“The result is appropriate,” Lemus said. “They really have everything going for them. They are a complete team.”
And they have been for some time.
The Vikings have won the North Bay League the past two seasons. Of note is that the Vikings are now playing the rest of their games without their dynamic senior, Alan “Momo” Soto. Soto was removed from the squad for breaking team rules, according to Schwan. But by the looks of it Friday, he wasn’t missed.