Highlands drops regional soccer semifinal

Posted on 18 February 2016 by LeslieM

sports021816By Gary Curreri

Highlands Christian Academy boys soccer coach Darryl Mauro said his team did as well as expected given the fact they didn’t train as a full unit until midway through the season.

The Knights finished the 2015-16 campaign with an impressive 14-2-2 record following a hard-fought 2-1 loss to host Trinity Christian in the Class 1A regional semifinal.

Highlands opened the season with a 1-1 draw with Coral Springs Charter and suffered its only loss of the season to King’s Academy, 2-0, in the third game of the year on Nov. 10 and went unbeaten the rest of the way until falling to Trinity Christian.

We had the early loss and we do what we can with the players we have,” Mauro said. “When you have four full-time players and the rest don’t touch the ball until October, we only have they little window to try and teach them.”

They do have fight when they need to and it usually comes when their backs are against the wall,” Mauro added. “We went down 2-0 and we fought and we fought.”

Jorge Zambrano and Joey Daanti scored for the host Warriors (14-3-4), while Evan Henderson scored for the Knights with less than 10 minutes remaining in the game.

Mauro moved senior defender Caleb Bien-Aime up top and hoped no one would break through as he changed his formation to a 3-4-3. He also received strong play from senior forward Elijah Kerr.

I had two ninth graders (Bryce Everette and Kyle Coulson) on the outside and a senior (Henderson) on the inside (defenders),” Mauro said. “They did their job. Our goalie (freshman John Harris) was sick all week and he did as well as he could.”

The Knights will graduate four starters and Mauro hopes that the school will start an intramural program.

It would be more established with a soccer-minded (philosophy) so the kids can touch the ball because our biggest issue is, since we are a small school, most of our players don’t touch the soccer ball again until October,” Mauro said. “That’s why I have a full head of grey.”

Mauro said, in addition to the football players, another issue he faces is that he didn’t get his international baseball players until early in the season.

I was working with baseball so that they could finish their club ball and I don’t think we had a full training session with them until mid-December,” said Mauro, who had to wait on forward Tisjar Clotida and defender Swindly Lint to come out for the team after baseball had ended. “We beat some good teams this year and we tied Hillel, which was our only other blemish.”

Mauro said the team ran into a more talented Trinity Christian squad. It was still an improvement for the Knights, who didn’t make it past the district semifinals last year and graduated a lot of seniors from that squad.

I had two baseball players and a couple of others come back,” Mauro said. “I am thankful I can coach with my son. I just want good soccer and today wasn’t their best. I thought (Trinity Christian) was a little more talented. They had five players up top. Their midfield and forwards had a little more energy than we had.”

Today, I just think it was the pressure on them,” Mauro concluded. “We teach them to play patient, simple soccer. I want them to dribble. I want them to pass. I just love good soccer.”

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