Horizon Christian’s boys soccer team is adjusting to the eight-player format and has posted a 2-0-1 record heading into a key stretch of play, which started Monday at Portland’s Mannahouse Christian.

(Horizon’s match result with Mannahouse (3-4-1, 2-1 district) was unavailable for the print edition deadline.)

The Hawks started last week with a 2-2 tie against visiting Southwest Christian on Sept. 27 and then won its second match this past Thursday, 6-0, over visiting Life Christian.

“Southwest Christian had a few solid players on their team,” Horizon Coach Andrew Stenberg said. “Our squad was able to hold them to zero goals until the last 10 minutes of the game, then our defense started to lose formation and two mistakes were made and Southwest Christian was able to capitalize and turn them into goals.

“Other than that, we found it difficult to transition from our defense into an offense attack, so that was something we wanted to work on and discuss before Thursday’s game.”

Horizon led 1-0 at halftime on Josiah Sohal’s goal off an assist from junior Henry Choi. Southwest tied the match in the 70th minute before Choi put Horizon back in front at the 75-minute mark. The lead was short-lived, as Southwest scored the equalizer on a shot that deflected off a Horizon defender.

Life Christian was a much younger team than Southwest, which gave the Hawks a chance to work on its transition attack under game conditions.

“Life Christian was a much younger team and so this allowed us to reiterate ball control from Tuesday’s game and move from a defensive mindset into an attacking mindset when we transition on the pitch,” Stenberg said. “It also gave us the opportunity to move players around and see where they would work best, including pulling Josh Rogers out of the goal and getting him onto the field. The players moved the ball much better in the second game.”

Senior Luke Hardin’s hat trick led the Hawks against Life. Rogers added a goal and an assist; junior Gabrielle Mooney contributed a goal, as did frosh Alex Dean. Sohal and Choi also assisted on Horizon goals.

Horizon opened its season Sept. 20 with a 4-1 win at Columbia Christian. “Being our first eight-man game, we were very excited to get the win,” Stenberg said. “One thing we noticed is that the team we played against had stacked their good players into their offense; whereas we have stacked our defense which is what allowed us to hold them to just one goal. Josh also had an exceptional game with 24 saves.”

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