Owensboro boys soccer used a pair of goals from freshman Ryan Sovar, a key save from senior Alex Gonzo and some luck to come away with a 2-0 win over Owensboro Catholic on Thursday.
Both teams traded possession back and forth through the first 20 minutes of play to no avail. The Red Devils had multiple chances getting three corners in the span of three minutes.
Their closest attempt was thwarted by junior keeper Parker Jones, who made a phenomenal save to keep the game tied at 0-0.
Owensboro Catholic Head Coach Andy Donohoe said they were lucky to be in the game with that phenomenal save from Jones. Jones just recently joined the soccer program and Donohoe said that he’s done an incredible job this season.
However, the first goal of the game was just out of his reach. Owensboro continued to try to get the ball in the box and when Sovar finally received it in the middle of the box, he quickly bent the ball and hit the top left post and put it in the corner of the goal to take a 1-0 lead in the 31st minute.
“We work on getting around the flanks and trying to stretch our opponent out,” said Owensboro Head Coach Ryan Haley. “We’re young, so we struggle in 1v1 battles on the outside. But, we keep trying and as time goes on we’re going to learn how to win those battles. When you do that it really thins out the inside and that first goal was a product of just that.”
Momentum began to shift towards the Red Devils, owning a 1-0 lead going into halftime. As the second half began, their intensity never faltered.
Owensboro controlled possession time and time again getting multiple chances, but were unable to convert.
Owensboro Catholic was fighting and they did earn a chance in the 60th minute, when a penalty was drawn and senior Lance Dickens stepped up for the PK.
Dickens shot to the right side of the goal where Gonzo’s outstretched arms deflected the ball to make the save.
Gonzo checked into the game at halftime for senior keeper Logan Lanham and made the most out of his opportunity with the crucial save.
“They’re both seniors, they both have been here for a long time and they’re both good at different things,” Haley said. “One of the things that Gonzo has been trying to overcome is diving. He’s got great hands but with his diving and his reflexes, he’s kind of been climbing a mountain. But not on that PK. On that PK he overcame an obstacle.”
Haley said that some of his players might have been so excited for the save that they didn’t keep playing, as Dickens corralled the ball for Owensboro Catholic, but Dickens sailed the ball over the open net and the Red Devils remained in charge 1-0.
The Aces still had a chance to make a late push, but that never came. Owensboro Catholic had a total of four shots in the game and none fell.
Donohoe said his team needed to play with more of a sense of urgency and that it cost them the ability to create chances offensively.
With the Aces sending everything but the kitchen sink at Owensboro to score offensively, this allowed Sovar to get the ball at midfield in the 78th minute and put the game away by chipping the ball over Jones’ head.
Sovar is the younger brother of two former Owensboro boys soccer athletes and Haley said he always knew that one day Ryan would make an impact for the Red Devils.
“He’s only 14 years old…” Haley said. “I’ve always known Ryan was going to be special and he is special. I think a game like this is only going to build his confidence. When you’re young like that and you’re playing against these kids that are so much older there’s a mental hurdle and I think Ryan is really starting to leap that… Every time we put him in the center he makes things happen.”
Owensboro had 24 shots on the night to the Aces four and Haley knows that for them to convert on those opportunities in the future they just have to keep practicing and earning those looks.
“It’s just repetition,” Haley said. “We work on attacking the goal almost every practice. The more you do something, the better you get at it. Every now and then we’re not wide enough and every now and then we don’t win the 1v1 battle… The more we keep trying to do it and the more we win those, the more confidence they get and the more it will open up as the season unfolds.”
Now sitting at 3-3 overall, the Red Devils will wait until Saturday for their next game when they host Oldham County at 6 p.m. Meanwhile, Owensboro Catholic will look to bounce back and try to grab its first win at home against Meade County at 11 a.m.