The Kentwood High boys soccer team left with a scoreless draw against Thomas Jefferson in its fourth North Puget Sound League game of the season, bringing its overall record to 3-2-2 and league mark to 3-0-1.
“We know we’re a talented group. We just have to move forward and get back to business,” senior Armani Albert said.
It was a tale of two halves for the Conquerors on Tuesday, March 28. A positive half, and one they might not want to look back on.
“We were really lethargic in the first half and weren’t dynamic in the first half,” Coach Ray Johnson said.
During the first half, Thomas Jefferson, (2-2-1, 1-2-1 league) came out firing on all cylinders. The Raiders worked the ball in and around the box for all 40 minutes of that first half.
There were no real opportunities for Kentwood to get its striker Albert involved early. He had just one shot attempt in the first half that traveled wide on the goal.
Even though the Raiders controlled possession and pace in the first half, the Kentwood backline stood firm and allowed just a couple shots on goal.
Keeping the ball out of the net is something this team has done extremely well. The Conks have allowed seven goals over their first seven games, the only teams that have allowed less than a goal a game are Thomas Jefferson (0.8) and Tahoma (0.7).
In the second half, the tide turned in the favor of Kentwood. The shift came as Johnson settled the team in and slowed the game down.
“We adjusted a little bit in the second half,” Johnson said. “We stretched out the field and attacked differently. Unfortunately, we couldn’t capitalize on it.”
In the first 10 minutes of the second half Albert found a way to impact the game. At the 44th minute Albert was on a counter attack and sent a shot off the post. In the 48th minute he delivered a cross into the box and Kentwood’s Matthew Gaul had his shot saved. Then again in the 52nd minute Albert had another shot that was saved.
“He’s extremely dynamic when he’s on,” Johnson said about his striker. “Armani can create a lot of havoc for backlines.”
It was a different style of attack for Albert in the game against the Raiders, he noted that he had to adjust because of the quality of center back Thomas Jefferson had.
“You gotta adjust and find other ways to affect the game. What was best today was getting my teammates involved,” Albert said.
But arguably the best chance of the game came in the 72nd minute off the foot of Kentwood midfielder Hudson Shenk had his shot saved and it got sent into the air by a Raider defender and then Gaul whiffed on his shot and nullified the Conk opportunity.
The rest of the game was all Kentwood but the Thomas Jefferson defense and keeper stood tall and kept the game scoreless.
“After the game you just say we should play that second half all the time… This is a game you could go get,” Johnson said.
The focus moving forward is on their mentality as the games go by.
“We’ll talk about how much more aggressive we were to get to the goal in that second half,” Johnson said. “In the first half it was more of a kick and a wish that Armani would run under it. But in the second half we built through the middle, stretched them out and got behind them a bunch.”
Kentwood takes on Auburn Riverside on Mar. 31.Both teams have averaged 1.0 goals allowed per game.