Rangers remain confident despite loss to Hatchets

Traci Westcott/The Herald
Forest Park's Tyler Berger falls after battling for the ball with Washington's Mac Heacock during Thursday's boys soccer game at Fifth Street Park in Ferdinand. Washington defeated Forest Park 3-0.

By JONATHAN SAXON
jsaxon@dcherald.com

FERDINAND — Losses are a part of competition. It’s a hard truth to accept sometimes, but it’s an inevitable outcome when multiple parties are set on attaining a single goal that can only be attained by one side. As such, almost all competitors feel the sting of defeat at one point or another, but not everyone reacts to losses the same way. Some will give up after their first stumble, while others will choose to find a silver lining to keep themselves going. Thursday night the Forest Park boys soccer team decided to place themselves in the latter category after being defeated by the class 2A top-ranked Washington Hatchets, 3-0. 

Rangers (0-2) coach Mike Foerester thought his team could have benefitted from a more assertive start instead of coming out and playing hesitant at first. But as the game went on the Rangers kept on fighting, especially on the defensive end, and he felt that the final score doesn’t represent how close the play was on the field. 

“I’m actually not disappointed with that result,” he said. “We came out a little shaky and noticed how physical Washington was playing, but we matched that and that kept us in the game. We gave up two junk goals I feel like, it should be a one-goal game tonight, but I’m happy with the boys.”

It looked like the Rangers and their fans would be in for a long evening after the first few minutes of play. The Hatchets (1-0) were quick to gain control of the field after the opening whistle, and soon Brady Hill found himself at the head of the pack pushing the ball towards the Rangers goal. Senior goalkeeper Zach Wahl left the net to confront him, but with a slick dribble Hill was able to get around him and shoot in Washington’s first goal of the game.

The second one couldn’t have come more than a couple of minutes after that. The Rangers were trying to make their way down the field, but their passes were disrupted and intercepted by the Hatchet defenders, who were blanketing every green jersey they could see. As Washington made another advance on Forest Park, Marvin Perez situated himself around the penalty area and received a shot from teammate Jacob Davis. Perez, without a second thought, turned and shot towards the Ranger goal. While it looked like it would go wide at first it received a fortuitous bounce off the far up bar and made its way into the back of the net for the 2-0 lead.

But the Rangers didn’t let those two early goals damage their resolve. Instead they decided to get right back at it and match the bumping and shoving they experience in the first few minutes of the game. They were able to disrupt the Hatchets multiple times when they tried to press on Wahl again, determined not to give them another clean shot at the goal. And when the defense in the field failed, Wahl stepped up and made himself wide like the goal’s opening as he stifled the rest of Washington’s shots during the first half.

As the game went into the second half the Rangers kept up the pressure and did their best to make the proceedings uncomfortable for the Hatchets. They matched every push and shove, swiped at loose balls with a vengeance, and did everything they could to take back the game. But while the defense held its own, the offense could not keep up. The Rangers rarely got clean looks at the Hatchets’ net, and when they shot it was usually from far out enough that Washinton’s goalie could catch the shot and calmly return it to play.

The Ranger’s inability to score meant the team reached a point where they were just spinning their wheels, while the Hatchets were able to put in one more thanks to Hill coming up with a loose ball in a crowd. In the end the Rangers fell to the Hatchets, but instead of pouting the team decided to look at how they played against the best team in their class and let that be fuel for the rest of the season. 

“Coming in playing the No. 1 team in 2A we knew it would be a challenge,” said senior Hunter Helming. “There’s some things we need to improve on, but for the most part we played pretty well and there’s a lot of things to take away from this game”

Foerester acknowledged the Rangers’ offense has some ground to make up in order to catch up to their defense, but if they can hang in a game the way they did against the Hatchets, then he likes the team’s chances when it comes to playing out the rest of their schedule.

“Our offense is still a work in progress, and I think our defense allows us to stay in games,” he said. “I think they understand we can play with anybody on our schedule. We’re talented, we’re getting a little more physical, we possess really well. We play Heritage Hills next week, so that’s going to be a good test. If we can keep the ball rolling with the way we played tonight I think it’ll be a good game on Tuesday.”




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