Varsity soccer celebrated its return to Stierberger Stadium Wednesday with Borgia claiming the first victory on the new turf.
But host Union had plenty of positives to take out of the match as well.
Borgia won, 2-0, scoring a goal in each half.
“It’s a beautiful surface they have here,” Borgia Head Coach Grant Kang said. “They have a first-class facility. Everything here is beautifully done. It was a pleasure to play here today.”
Union Head Coach Matt Fennessey said it was great to get to play at the new field.
“It’s a great upgrade to the middle school field,” Fennessey said. “We play so many games on turf fields now that this is great. We play so many of our matches on turf. To be able to play and practice in one location is great. They’ve done a fantastic job. The boys are enjoying playing on the new field.”
It wasn’t the first match on the new surface. St. James won a 3-1 decision over Union’s junior varsity team the day before. It also wasn’t the first time soccer was played at the high school field. The Union teams called Stierberger Stadium home briefly during the 1990s.
But Wednesday marked the first varsity contest since the completion of the new artificial surface.
“Although we lost, I thought we played pretty good,” Fennessey said.
The first goal went to Borgia senior Adam Meyer, who finished in the 30th minute.
Sophomore Jack Hellebusch took a pass in traffic in the middle and fed the ball over to the left side for Meyer, who has making a run to the goal.
He fired a shot low to the far side to beat Union senior netminder Trey Fink for the game’s first goal.
“That was just good ball movement,” Kang said. “We’ve been trying to work in practice on keeping the ball moving before we shoot and that time, it just seemed to work out. Jack had a very nice assist.”
The second marker came in the 78th minute in the second half when Borgia senior forward Jake Erwin scored on a low, hard shot to double Borgia’s lead. Zac Schweissguth assisted on the goal.
“It was a really nice shot by Jake Erwin,” said Kang. “Both goals came from seniors. Our seniors really stepped up to score and we needed that.”
For the most part, Fink proved to be a wall in goal for the Wildcats. Fennessey, a standout goalkeeper during his playing days, has found an able successor to Dillen Myers between the pipes. He made 11 saves in the game.
“Trey played a pretty darned good game,” Fennessey said. “This was the first real test for him and he looked pretty good in goal. He saved a penalty kick and did good things. I was happy with the way he punted the ball and commanded the defense.”
“Trey Fink is an outstanding goalkeeper,” Kang said. “I was amazed throughout the game at his quickness, his reflexes and his hand-eye coordination. He was truly superb tonight.”
Fink proved his worth in the 66th minute. After Borgia junior Ryan Jones was tripped in the box, Fink stopped a penalty kick from Borgia senior Ben Kang and then covered the rebound to keep the game close.
Grant Kang said the players on the field told him Fink had the entire side of the net covered on the penalty kick attempt.
“We were talking about that penalty kick he saved,” Kang said. “We were talking about whether it would have gone in had Ben placed the ball anywhere else on that side. Everyone concluded that Trey had that entire side covered including the top corner. He moved very quickly.”
The final score was an improvement of five goals from last year’s meeting between the two teams, a 7-0 Borgia win.
Union’s defensive unit bent but didn’t break much of the game. While Borgia dominated possession, the Wildcats didn’t yield many outstanding scoring chances. And when the Knights did get shots, Fink was up to the challenge.
“I felt we had a couple of good chances during the first 20 minutes of the second half,” Fennessey said. “Dillen Breeden did a good job at sweeper for us. Nathan Salenuic moved to left back and he did a pretty good job. We put Nick Schumaker on Jake Erwin and he was able to do a good job at center midfield.”
Meanwhile, Kang was eager to see his young defense in action. Borgia was able to control possession for much of the game and the Knights were able to withstand trouble from the Union offense.
“For our back line, it was really important to get the shutout,” Kang said. “We really lack confidence on the back line. This game goes a long way toward giving the young defenders confidence.”
Borgia junior Joe Scheuler, who recorded the first shutout at the new field, was up to the task when Union was able to take shots. He made four saves in the contest.
“Scheuler was very solid today in the back,” Kang said. “He looked very comfortable. I think he’s one of the best keepers in the area with his feet. He got the chance to handle the ball with his feet several times tonight.”
Borgia also won the junior varsity match, 2-0. The teams played a half as Union has players double-rostered between the two squads.
The Knights followed up with a 5-0 home win over Fatima Thursday night.
Borgia scored four of its goals in the first half and added the fifth goal in the final 40 minutes.
Meyer led the way offensively with two goals and two assists.
Erwin had one goal and two assists.
Max Diener and Hellebusch each scored once. Ben Kang added an assist.
Scheuler made four saves in net for his second consecutive shutout.
Borgia hosts Helias Thursday at 5 p.m.
The Wildcats are back in action next week in the Pacific Tournament and start Tuesday against Windsor with a 4 p.m. starting time.