HS Soccer: The Woodlands sweeps College Park in rivalry doubleheader
THE WOODLANDS, TX -- A week after their incredible battle on the hardwood, College Park and The Woodlands got their next opportunity to go head-to-head out on the soccer pitch. In this edition of the Battle of the Woods, the teams wearing green, red, and white would reign supreme on Friday night. The Lady Highlanders lit up the scoreboard in a 5-1 win over the Lady Cavaliers. On the men’s side, The Highlanders came away with a gritty 3-2 win over the Cavs.
The girls played a very open and back and forth match. For a good portion of the game, College Park was the aggressor. The Lady Cavs possessed more of the ball, but the Lady Highlanders were more than welcome to use their speed to strike on the counter and were very dangerous doing just that.
Courtney Koehler scored for the second time in two games to give The Woodlands the lead 10 minutes into the game. Koehler’s goal was a nice shot in close that beat the keeper over her near post shoulder, but the goals that followed made the first goal seem like a simple tap in.
Janey Kauppinen stunned Woodforest Stadium when she went upper 90 from outside the box for The Woodlands’ second goal. The freshman caught the defenders napping when she was left alone after taking the corner kick and hit an arching shot from her left foot across the box and into the top right corner.
College Park desperately needed a goal before halftime to try to gain some momentum. The Lady Cavs got that goal, albeit an unlikely one, with five minutes remaining in the half. Mia Summers sent in a ball off a free kick from way outside the box that took an awkward bounce right in front of the keeper. She was unable to control the ball, letting it carry her over the goal line as she attempted to stop it. It was a one-goal game going into the half and it seemed like the second half was going to be very competitive, however, the Lady Highlanders had other plans.
The Woodlands scored three times in the second half, including a brace from Samone Knight to secure the win and start the district 15-6A race with a 2-0 record.
Over at The Woodlands HS, last season’s co-districts champs were battling to get out in front of each other in the race for the 2020 title. This game was fast and physical and filled with goals, giving each school’s rowdy crowd plenty to cheer for.
The game was scoreless for the first 25 minutes but that changed when the Highlanders struck gold on a set-piece. Off of a corner, Silvino Fernandez outjumped everyone in the box to head home the game’s opening goal, and the first of two goals scored by defenders Friday night.
The scoreboard barely had time to update before the Cavaliers responded. Seconds later, Cavaliers’ forward Jesse Botello hit the back of the net to level the game at one. The first half was less than two minutes away from wrapping up with the teams tied at one, but Diego Diaz decided to intervene. The Highlander midfielder found space in the box to knock in his teammate’s pass and take back the lead right before the halftime whistle.
Four minutes into the second half, another unlikely goal-scorer stepped up for The Woodlands. Defender Matt Wilborn stayed with a deflected shot and found the back of the net with his second attempt to give The Woodlands an important two-goal lead.
Coach Jason Fanning was pleased with his team’s defenders contributing in the attacking third.
“Whenever you have more than one player that can threaten to score, you’re going to be a dangerous team,” said Fanning.
College Park wouldn’t go away easily. Ricardo Aranda scored late, forcing the Highlanders to defend an all-out blitz for the final eight minutes. The Woodlands were able to protect their net and hold on for the huge 3-2 win over last season’s 6A state semifinalist.
“You can see by the response of the players that this is a passionate rivalry,” said Fanning. “It’s been a long time since we beat College Park. They’re a fantastic team, very well-coached, and we’re pretty happy to get away with a victory.”
The Woodlands starts district play 2-0 while College Park is still searching for their first win at 0-1-1.