When a team truly is riding a wave the signs are unmistakable.
In his club’s regular season finale, Calhoun midfielder Christian Crews opened the scoring with his first tally of the year – and then seemed unable to stop himself, scoring two more goals for a hat trick to buoy the Colts in their 5-1 win over visiting MacArthur in a Nassau Conference A-1 boys’ soccer contest last Friday.
The victory – Calhoun’s third in a row, and third straight five-goal performance – lifted it to a second-place finish in A-1 at 7-3, 7-4 overall. With playoff action clinched in early October, the tail end of Calhoun’s calendar consisted of tune-ups for the postseason, which begin this Friday with Calhoun facing a yet to be determined opponent in the opening round.
Calhoun assistant coach Chris Vogel saw in the Colts’ win against MacArthur (3-5-1, 4-5-2) the timely culmination of a season-long trend towards greater team unification. “We’ve been trying to get everything straightened out to be ready for the playoffs,” Vogel said. “Today, against a very good team, it all came together. We’ve got talent, like many teams, but the thing is to have unity, for everyone to connect, and we did today in a number of ways.”
Senior All-County forward Alex Sipos connected in the first half for his team-leading 13th goal (fourth in Nassau), and later assisted on senior midfielder Ryan HiIlke’s second-half score. “Alex has an explosive ability to change games,” Vogel said of the Colts co-captain, who has two hat tricks of his own this season. “He’s exciting to watch. Ryan helps set the tempo every game, controlling the ball. He’s very smooth out there.”
Senior goalkeeper Dylan Moehringer added 12 saves to his conference-leading count, finishing first in A-1 with 92, while collecting his first solo shutout. “Dylan’s getting more and more comfortable in the net,” Vogel said. “He made some very athletic saves, going up high. He’s always on top of what’s happening on the field.”
Going forward, Vogel said, Calhoun will look for continued high output from other key pieces if its arsenal, such as senior center middie Samuel Bitale, and sophomore forward James Gavnoudias – the Colts’ second-leading scorer (7 goals, 2 assists). “Sam Bitale is a big presence, filling gaps and controlling the middle” Vogel said. “James has a high soccer IQ, with a matching skill set. He’s really teamed up well with Sipos, and is learning a lot.”
On the defensive end, Vogel said Calhoun will continue to lean on its center backs – senior co-captain Dylan McTurk and junior Conor Andrews – who headed A-1’s third-best unit, allowing just under two goals per game. “Dylan is a pit bull,” Vogel said. “Once he sees the ball, he’s going for it; no quit in him. Conor’s very smart and increasingly composed on the field.”
Added Vogel: “All of these kids are talented, and they’re playing more and more like a team. As long as we can keep doing that, the rest will take care of itself.”