By Spencer DuPuis
LoCoSports Copy Editor
Leesburg (May 30, 2017) — On Memorial Day, the Conference 21B No.1 Heritage High School boys soccer team faced Conference 23 No. 2 Liberty Christian Academy in Leesburg.
Winning the Conference 21B tournament, meant hosting a VHSL 4A West region game for the Pride — which is huge after losing in the conference final last year and having to be on the road for the quarterfinal round.
“It’s a lot easier getting to play at the stadium you’ve played at all year and having the support from [the school]and parents [is huge],” Heritage senior and Binghamton-commit Kosta Nika said.
In the ninth-minute, Pride senior — and Maryland-commit — Gio Vasquez juked a few defenders and took a penalty, which set up a penalty shot, which he put in the back of net to give Heritage the early lead.
“That’s just so important [to score early]in these games — just like I told them before the game, everyone is here for a reason and every team is good,” Heritage head coach Betsy Munson said. “We just had to take advantage that we were hosting and had our home crowd. The boys were up and ready to play. I was very proud of their unselfish play by getting the ball spread around and making some good things happen for us.”
A few minutes later, Pride junior Eddy Morales juked a defender and found Vasquez alone just outside the penalty box. Vasquez would beat a few defenders himself and shoot it at the net where he found Nika to put it in the back of the net to go up 2-0.
“I’m blessed because Ryan Pyszka, Giovanni [Vasquez] and Kosta [Nika] all play on the same club team, so the nice thing about that is that know each other’s moves and how to connect,” Munson said.
Two-minutes later, Nika added another goal to give them a 3-0 lead, which the Pride would take into halftime.
“[Leading at the half is] important because once you put the team away early, you can control how the game goes,” Nika said. “ We controlled the game and put another one away early, and it was our game.”
The Pride would keep up the pressure with three more quality shots before the half ended, but they were all stopped by the Bulldogs.
To begin the second half, the Bulldogs applied sustained pressure, but the shots were stopped by Heritage junior goalkeeper Brandon Davis as the Pride continued to cruise.
“The field players did such a good job that Brandon [Davis] didn’t have a whole lot to do tonight, but he did make one great save in the second half to save the shutout, “ Munson said. “We were really going for a shutout tonight, and we were really happy to get that, and they worked really hard for that.
In the 61st minute — with the game on cruise control for the Pride — senior Ryan Pyszka — also a Binghamton-commit — scored to all but ice it for Heritage.
Conference 21B No. 1 Heritage will travel to Conference 22 No. 1 Kettle Run to take on the Cougars in a VHSL 4A West region semifinal on May 31 in Nokesville.
The Pride needs just one more win to secure a spot in the VHSL 4A state tournament, which takes place in Salem on June 9-10.
“That’s huge, that’s what everyone’s been working toward from preseason,” Munson said. “All these years of coming really close — with ten seniors –they are really on a mission to do something big. Hopefully, we will be able to get the job done this year.”
9’ H Gio Vasquez (PK)
14’ H Kosta Nika
16’ H Kosta Nika
61’ H Ryan Pyszka