The Elma High School boys soccer team is definitely a second half team this season.
The Eagles (5-1, 5-0) trailied 1-0 going into halftime against Rochester on Friday, but in the second half Elma found its offense scoring three times in 20 minutes to win 3-1.
After losing the season opener to 2A Capital, the Eagles are undefeated against 1A opponents this season with wins in their last five contests.
“It is nice to win,” coach Carson Seaberg said. “It is an expectation that we can play to a level that can result in a win and as we continue to do that I think it gives the players and everyone confidence going forward. We are pumped about the position we are in, but it is just the start of the season. If we don’t continue to put in the hard work it is going to be all for nothing.”
Elma had several chances to score in the first half, but the only scoring came from a ball that slipped through the hands of Elma senior goalie Tyler Davis.
The Eagles tied it up in the first ten minutes of the second half when senior Edgar Hermenegildo found the back of the net with a “creative shot.” Elma would get the game winner just six minutes later when Hermenegildo got the ball at the top of the box and sent a pass to Jake Bates who beat the Rochester goalie. A little insurance for the Eagles came in the 70th minute when a Rochester defender misplayed a corner kick from Donovan Bieker and sent the ball into the Warriors net to make the score 3-1.
After the first goal with less than two minutes to go in the first half, Davis was virtually a brick wall playing aggressively and making several stops on breakaways for Rochester.
“We just had to focus,” Davis said. “We got ourselves together and worked as a team. This is the first year we have been able to go undefeated five games in a row and just play as a team constantly. Just show up and know we are going to win.”
While Seaberg is pleased with the start to the season, he would like to see Elma get on the board first instead of coming from behind for victories.
“Only one time out of six games now have we been able to score first,” Seaberg said. “That is a bad trend and that is a bad habit to start. We have to get out and we can’t let adversity be what drives us. We can’t say ‘We are down 1-0, it is halftime, now we are going to go play,’ because eventually it catches up to you. It hasn’t so far, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t.”
During halftime, Seaberg stressed the importance of focusing to finish some of the scoring opportunities that Elma had squandered in the first half. The speech was taken to heart as evidenced by the final scoreboard.
“Whether you are finishing a goal, finishing a tackle, finishing a pass, you have to have that focus that you step in, you make the right play and you don’t let things get away from you,” Seaberg said. “In the first half we had some really good looks that we didn’t even get on frame. You do all that good work, you put yourself in a position to score and you are not focused on making that final touch.”
Elma will have a week off from competition for spring break, but the Eagles first game back from the break will be against 1A Evergreen League rival Hoquiam on April 15 in Hoquiam. Elma won the first meeting between the two teams on March 21 by a score of 3-1. Hoquiam is currently in second place in the league standings with a 3-1 league record and the rematch between the Eagles and Grizzlies will be key for both teams as they near the midway point of the season.
Elma’s overall record has improved each of the past three seasons yet they have come short of their season goal of a district championship. The five Eagle seniors have set their sights on the likes of Rochester and Hoquiam and are ready to do whatever it takes to end the season with a trophy.
“We are hungry and we want it,” Hermenegildo said. “We want to go undefeated. We are tired of all of the past of not being able to beat Rochester or Hoquiam. We just want to take this opportunity.”