The Tri-City United boys varsity soccer team didn’t need a win to make its program debut a success, but it got one anyway. The Titans celebrated a 3-1 victory over the Triton Cobras on Thursday, Sept. 5.

Though it was their first game as a team, the Titans did not hold back.

“They set the tone right away by scoring in the first 13 seconds of the game with five quick passes and a perfectly placed shot by Senior Captain Isaac Gonzalez,” said TCU coach Carey Langer. “We played well as a team all game, and in the second half, we simply beat them to the ball.“

Midfielder Kriz Ruiz scored two more goals for the Titans, bringing their total up to three. From that point on, the Titans’ strategy was to keep the ball away from the Cobras.

“Triton was playing a lot of deep balls into our defensive third of the field and running onto it. In the first half, we struggled a little defensively to handle that,” said Langer. “We made a couple of adjustments at halftime and the defense came out the second half and simply shut Triton down, allowing them only a few shots in the second half. Defensive players Jesus Ruiz, Pedro Ruiz, Jose Herrera, Frankie Sanchez and Ashton Matejcek were just outstanding at making adjustments and simply out hustling the Cobras.”

Langer pointed out several other players instrumental in obtaining the TCU boys soccer team’s first victory of the season.

“Special shout out for Kriz Ruiz with 2 goals, Isaac Gonzalez with a goal and Jesus ‘Chi Chi’ Hernandez with an incredible performance in goal, saving 14 out of 15 shots with some incredible saves,” said Langer.

Langer said that he was proud of how the team played, but that they still had things to work on.

“It was a great team win, and I was very pleased with everyone’s performance,” said Langer. “We have a lot to be proud of, but we still have a number of things we will need to get better at if we want to continue to be successful.”

While Thursday’s game represents the boys soccer team’s first victory over an opposing team, the fact that that the team had a chance to play was a victory in itself. Many of the team’s players spent more than a year rallying support for an official high school soccer squad.

“We really had to pressure our teachers,” said senior Jesus Ruiz. Ruiz, along with his fellow team captains Kriz Ruiz, Isaac Gonzalez and Hugo Ruiz, played an important role in getting the soccer program off the ground. Many of the boys had already played club level soccer and wanted a chance to play for their school.

In order to convince the school of the interest in a soccer program, Jesus Ruiz described sitting down with teachers and staff, including Activities Director Chad Johnson and recruiting students to sign up for the team last fall. However, the boys were unable to recruit the 20 students needed for a soccer program to be launched.

Despite the setback, interest in the program was kept alive during the winter months, thanks in part due to the efforts of coach Langer. Langer coached club level soccer in Nebraska for 18 years prior to joining TCU and held training sessions for both boys and girls in between the winter and spring.

Last spring, the boys and girls both finally had the numbers they needed for an official soccer team. Jesus Ruiz is determined to ensure that the soccer program continues after he graduates.

“We have a lot of goals. Especially for seniors, since this is our last year,” said Ruiz. “Our first and most important goal is to make this program big and successful. We want to prove to the school and to the students that we can do it. We want to demonstrate that we can, that we’re not afraid of anything.”

The boys soccer team will have their next match at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 9 at Pine Island Elementary.

Reach Reporter Carson Hughes at 507-931-8572.

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