In a game that was originally scheduled to be held at Silverdale, the Howard Hustlin' Tigers used every bit of their home-field advantage on their way to a dominant 4-0 victory, their first of the season.
“Man, we have struggled with chemistry and discipline on the field,” said Howard head coach Jose Otero. “I think the more that they see that they can work together and the more that they feel they can trust each other, I think we’re going to have more goals and more wins,” said Otero.
Team-first, unselfish soccer was on display from the Tigers all night– a testament to the growing chemistry in a team with eight new first-year starters. This first showing of growing trust came in the 11th minute when the Howard midfield set up sophomore Jaime Roman Pablo for a clean shot just inside the box which resulted in the game’s first goal.
Ramon Pablo looked like the most skillful player on the field all night, too clever to be kept away from the ball, too quick to have it stolen, and too aware to miss an open passing lane. Shortly after his goal, Ramon Pablo took the ball near the sideline and rattled off move after move, improbably freeing himself for a shot as defenders lay in his wake. The minuscule window he had was just big enough to squeeze a shot through, and the remarkable play ended with the attempt rolling past the diving goalie but inches wide of the far post, giving relieved Silverdale defenders with a moment to catch their breath and brainstorm ways to keep the slight attacker hemmed in.
The Howard offense continued their attack though. Just two minutes later, shortly after entering the game, Myles Harper found the tallest man on the field, Joshua Bulls unmarked in the box, and after a touch, Bulls fired the ball into the back of the net to double the Tiger advantage.
Bulls wasted no time showing his appreciation for the nice feed from Harper, as just three minutes later, Bulls returned the favor and found Harper with a nice cross which he netted in the 27th minute to give Howard a 3-0 lead. An ultimate show of trust and chemistry.
The team’s three goals in the first half surpassed their goal-scoring totals from their first three games this season combined.
“Little by little, we’re bringing our tenth graders in and they’re stepping up,” said Otero. “We’re just waiting for that glue, the mesh, to happen with the players,” said Otero. The first-half showing was certainly a good sign for the group of Tigers who are learning how to play together.
The Tiger attack was successful, but it didn’t come easily. Silverdale defender Jasper Martin routinely fended off goal-scoring opportunities from the Tigers with good positioning and quick deflections. The skyscraping junior stepped in the way of several potential goals as his curly bleach-blonde hair acted as a helmet that turned away crosses and shot attempts that kept the game in reach.
To begin the second half, Silverdale goalie Caleb Askew did his part as well, snagging a well-placed corner kick just before it found its target, and making an unlikely kick save on a Joshua Bulls breakaway.
Eventually, however, the Howard offense broke through again for a 33rd-minute goal that put the game out of reach. This one came from senior captain Henry Santos Bernabe whose deep strike took a hop and escaped the arms of Askew, finding its way into the net to put the game away.
“I’m very fortunate to have a lot of talented players on the team,” said Otero. “I’m very proud of my midfielders. We have two very strong forwards up front, and we have a promising season ahead… It feels good to win tonight,” said Otero.
The impressive Howard victory gets them into the winners’ column, while the Seahawks fall to 1-2.
SILVERDALE 0 0 – 0
HOWARD 3 1 – 4
Goal Scorers: Howard (4) - Jaime Ramon Pablo, Joshua Bulls, Myles Turner, Henry Santos Bernabe.