No. 1 River Hill rolls in opener

Hawks dominate Liberty for 5-0 home victory

Boys soccer

September 11, 2002|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Teams that graduate eight starters usually decline a bit in quality. Not the River Hill boys soccer team.

The Hawks, winners of three state titles in the six seasons since their school opened, finished last season top-ranked and are No. 1 again - with good reason.

They put on a show in their season opener yesterday, subduing a visiting Liberty team that played them tough the past two seasons.

The 5-0 score would have been higher had the Hawks not misfired on a couple of easy chances. Liberty goalkeeper Matt Jolly also kept the score down with 13 saves in an exceptional effort.

Midfielder Mike Stromberg and forward Mo Hamzeh each scored two goals and had one assist for River Hill.

"This team is stacked," Liberty coach Ed DeVincent said of River Hill. "It is much better than it was the last couple of years."

Liberty sweeper Andy Soukup anchored a three-man back line that was powerless to stop the speed of River Hill forwards Justin Hughes and Hamzeh.

"I felt I could get in on their corners whenever I wanted," Hughes said. "Their outside backs were pinching in."

Hughes said his team thought Liberty wouldn't be as strong as last season. "We thought they'd try to outwork us, and we knew we had to be physical. We turned up the pressure early."

River Hill pinned Liberty back from the start but did not score until the 23rd minute, when Hamzeh easily tapped a left-footer to the far post off a cross from Hughes.

With River Hill coach Bill Stara substituting liberally in the last 10 minutes of the first half, the Hawks broke the game open on a chested goal by Nathan Ong off a cross by Hamzeh in the 31st minute.

Mike Stromberg turned and shot from inside the 18-yard box for River Hill's third goal in the 35th minute.

DeVincent exhorted his team to show some character and play hard in the second half, and the Lions kept the Hawks off the scoreboard again until the 62nd minute, when Hamzeh volleyed in a right-footer off a pass by Stromberg.

The Lions managed their first shot of the game in the 51st minute. They were outshot, 25-3. And River Hill took 11 corner kicks to Liberty's one.

A great goal-line clear by Lions fullback James Napp in the 70th minute momentarily prevented a fifth River Hill goal.

But Stromberg scored his second goal and his team's fifth with an assist by Andrew Chow in the 77th minute.

"You could tell it was our first game, but it was a good effort," Stara said. "We needed to play a game."

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