The first-ever season of the Tri-City United boys soccer team came to a close Monday, Oct. 8. The Titans were bested 3-1 by Albert Lea in the first round of the Section 2A tournament. For a new team, the Titans pulled out a respectable 2-2 record this season.
“We played well,” TCU Coach Carey Langer said. “We did really well possessing the ball out of our defensive third for most of the game, and we finally bridged the gap between defenders and midfielders.”
While the Titans had a strong defense, Albert Lea took control of the midfield and played a robust offensive game.
“[Albert Lea was] winning most of the 50/50 balls played into that area. That hurt us,” Langer said. “ It meant we spent most of the game responding to what they were doing, rather than making them respond to us. It’s hard to win games when that happens.”
Though Albert Lea would come out on top with three successful shots on goal, Titan goalkeeper Jesus “Chi Chi” Hernandez made it difficult for the Tigers to score.
“[Hernandez] kept us in the game with some outstanding saves,” Langer said. “He has consistently been the player that opposing coaches mention when our matches are over. He’s just plain good, and his ability to come up with amazing saves makes him a focal point on this team week in and week out.”
The Titans weren’t without their own offensive victories. Sophomore midfielder and team captain Kriz Ruiz has been a consistent, aggressive force for the Titans throughout the season. At Albert Lea, Ruiz had the Titans only successful shot on goal.
“Sophomore captain Kriz Ruiz continues to have success getting high quality shots on frame,” Langer said. “He was fouled in the penalty box resulting in a penalty kick. He scored by burying that penalty kick into the upper right hand corner. Kriz has made every penalty kick opportunity he’s been given this season and he is definitely our go to guy.”
For Coach Langer, the first year of Tri-City United boys’ soccer team has been nothing but a success.
“We agreed at the beginning of the year as a team that our goal was to win as many games as possible, but that it was important to all of us that we laid a solid foundation for soccer at TCU. We all feel like we’ve done that.”
Langer noted that boys were improving both on the field and in the classroom.
“The thing that I am most pleased with is that we have succeeded in the classroom this first quarter. Many of our players have achieved their best first quarter grade point average of their high school career this year. This outlines the dedication they have to the game of soccer and their willingness to be respectful and responsible student athletes. Our motto this year was ‘mind and body’ and I have seen the evidence of them applying this motto to their school life. That means a lot to me as their coach.”