Monday, Jul 22, 2019

Hornets claim 1st soccer sectional

JD Escobar.JPG
Harvard Hornet JD Escobar bends a shot downfield Oct. 25 during the IHSA Class 2A Byron sectional championship game. The Hornets defeated Hinckley Big Rock High School 3-2 to claim the team’s first sectional championship in school history. HML PHOTO BY JAY SCHULZ

The Harvard High School boys soccer team has a goal – win the state title. Winning the IHSA Class A sectional tournament 3-2 over Hinckley Big Rock High School Oct. 25 was only the next step on that journey for the Hornets. However, it was an important step because it was the first sectional title for the soccer team in school history.

The Hornets scored the first three goals of the game. In the first half, Daniel Mercado and Benito Mendoza caught the net for the Hornets, and Ismael Albarran added a goal early in the second half.

The Royals would not go away, however, and scored a header goal with less than 20 minutes to go in the game. They continued to press and scored again with 56 seconds left in the game, but the Hornets were able to hold and claim the title.

“It’s exciting,” said Harvard head coach Dave Abel. “The kids really worked hard, and I think that’s what led to the success.

“It’s one step on the journey. We want to continue the journey. It’s a positive, but you can’t get caught up in it. … When the season’s all said and done, then we can look back and we can be proud.”

Abel said he was extremely happy with his team’s playing, but they need to play all 80 minutes.

“One of the things we talk about is finishing,” Abel said. “It’s not necessarily finishing the ball or a goal but finishing halves, finishing minutes, finishing games. There are so many positives, but I would say that would be the one negative. I felt like we could have put the game away, and we let them back in it.”

The Hornets won 17 games in a row and are now 20-4. Assistant coach Keith McCloud said this team is not done.

“It’s not over yet,” McCloud said. “We still have work to do. We still have some more soccer to play. The kids have got to keep playing. We have to go back and think about our mistakes and figure out how to limit goals.

“This is a special group of guys that just want to keep playing. They want to be together a little bit longer, so that’s what were going to do.”

Senior striker JD Escobar said winning the sectional title was exciting, but the goal is to win the state title. He said the team can’t become complacent.

“We need to keep working on what we are doing,” Escobar said. “We need to keep getting better.”