Alcoa’s Alec Reynolds was streaking down the middle of the field with defenders attached to each side of his body. It would’ve taken nothing less than a perfect ball to give him a chance to score.
Javier Lopez delivered. Lopez fit a ball about 20 yards downfield in between the defenders. Reynolds capitalized on the opportunity and knocked a goal into the back left corner.
The Tornadoes didn’t look back and defeated Berean Christian 2-1.
“Javier is very creative when we get him on the ball in the midfield,” Shane Corley said. “That was a big boost. It helped us control and play a good first half.”
Reynolds wasn’t finished scoring. With nine minutes, 17 seconds left in the first half, he beat a defender and the goalkeeper in a race to the ball to score his second goal and give the Tornadoes a 2-0 lead at the half.
“That’s just from his work ethic,” Corley said. “We played a good first half. That was probably the best half of soccer we’ve played so far.”
Reynolds’ second goal wouldn’t have been possible without Cade Winchester.
Winchester made a stellar defensive play to steal possession and put the ball within Reynolds’ reach.
The Tornadoes offense didn’t have as much success in the second half, but the defense was there to pick up the slack.
Senior goalkeeper Jacob Templin led the defensive effort by making seven saves. Templin wasted no time setting the tone early.
An Eagles forward easily sliced through the middle of the Tornadoes defense to put himself in position to score.
Templin was the only line of defense left and stopped the scoring chance with a full-extension diving stop to his right.
In the 31st minute of the second half, Templin was challenged with a nearly identical scenario. Again, he delivered. Templin dove to his left to stop one of the Eagles’ best scoring chances of the night.
“We know Jacob is very talented, and he knows what to do,” Corley said.
“He played 80 minutes of soccer tonight with his head fully in the game.”
Templin also had help from his defenders. The Tornadoes’ young backs held their own. They didn’t allow the Eagles to have many scoring chances in the first half.
In the second half, the back four didn’t play as well, but had its most impressive stop of the game. An Eagles forward got past Templin and had a clean shot at a goal from about 10 feet. William Carter blocked the ball with a kick, shocking everyone in the crowd.
After the Eagles added a late goal, that stop proved to be the difference.
“That’s the right spot at the right time,” Corley said. “It’s not easy. We’ve really focused and put some effort into trying to clean up some things in the back.”
The Tornadoes’ defense started to get fatigued in the second half.
This led to the Eagles having more scoring opportunities, but Templin was always there to answer. Six of his seven saves came after halftime.
The win gives the Tornadoes a strong start to district play. Not only was it a big district win, but Corley was happy to see his team gain confidence.
“We have four district matches so everyone one of them is very important,” Corley said.
“We’ve had a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the season, and we desperately needed to get this win tonight.”