By Alex Slusher
On Tuesday night, OES Men’s Soccer and tournament #1 seed played host to #5 seed and defending state champion Riverside.
In 2017, OES traveled to Riverside for the quarterfinals, when Riverside was the #1 seed and OES played the role of underdog. OES played the #1 seed very tight, but lost 2-0. This year, the tables turned when Riverside visited the OES Turf, blanketed in early November fog.
Expectations for OES were high after the return of captain and all league midfielder Mason Li ‘20. In warmups, OES players had stoic, focused facial expressions: a second loss to Riverside in two years was not an option.
Early in the game, freshman Conor Mansfield continued his recent success with a rebound shot goal. However, minutes later, a Riverside played went down in the box. A penalty was called on an OES defender, and Gerardo Lopez evened the score at 1 with a smooth shot to the bottom corner.
Although the momentum felt as though it had shifted, senior captain and goalie Thomas Hochman ‘19 stated that the team felt “confident and pretty loose… we knew we were the better team, and the penalty was a wake up call of sorts”. Hochman was correct, and with 27 minutes remaining in the first half, Jason Lim ‘20 shot an absolute firecracker of a deep shot that put the Aardvarks up one. Soon after, Mansfield put in his second goal, and then Jonah Song’s shot rolled through the goalies hands to increase the Aardvark advantage to 4-1.
Riverside remained physical throughout the game, challenging OES at every opportunity. Furthermore, the Riverside brothers Gerardo and Ulyses Lopez were everywhere on the field, causing many problems for the Aardvark defense. OES and Riverside traded goals in the second half, and a pretty shot by Kennedy B cemented the final score of 6-2. Kennedy stated that the team “had the possession, and became more and more composed throughout the first half.”
The Aardvark’s victory sets up an excellent match against rival Catlin Gabel on Saturday. The game is at 1:00pm, make sure to come out and support your Aardvarks!!!