Thursday’s Central Hardin-John Hardin boys’ soccer game was the final regular-season 17th District game for both teams. Coming into the game off a 3-1 loss to Elizabethtown on Tuesday, Bruins coach Austin Varela was hoping his team would come out strong from the start.
“I expected better, but I think that all the boys expected better,” Varela said. “So it’s not like something that went unseen. The boys know what to pick up on. They know what’s expected of them.”
These expectations came into play as the game continued. After going scoreless through the first half, Central Hardin was able to show some improvement and picked up a 2-0 home win over the Bulldogs on the team’s Senior Night.
“Accountability’s different this year. The boys are holding themselves more accountable. I’m gonna be holding them more accountable as well,” Varela said. “Obviously, 2-0 isn’t exactly the result that we wanted this evening, but we take it and we get better from it.”
While it was another loss for John Hardin, coach Kevin Stafford was pleased by the continued growth his team showed Thursday, especially the effort in the first half. The Bulldogs also held the Bruins to fewer goals than the team had allowed in previous losses to Elizabethtown and North Hardin.
“We played amazing soccer in the first 40 minutes. There’s a couple of things we need to clean up about positioning and then once we do that, we can function like we did for 40 minutes for all 80 minutes,” Stafford said. “When we start moving out of position, we’re running too much and we’re getting tired too quickly. So after that, we’re gonna clean it up and keep improving and keep playing.”
The Bruins got on the board when senior Brayden Yates knocked in a pentalty kick with 34:48 left in the second half. 10 minutes later, sophomore Micah Brown netted a goal of his own to put Central Hardin up 2-0 with 24:39 to play.
“We had tons of opportunities and then I was crowded around a bunch of people and I took a touch in,” Brown said of his goal. “I took a bunch of touches, then scored.”
Brown’s goal would be the last of the game and set up the Bruins’ victory.
“I think we could’ve done a better job. As for every game we play, there’s always more opportunities that we missed,” Brown said. “I’m really happy that a lot of the seniors got some playing time and obviously happy with the victory.”
With Elizabethtown’s win over North Hardin Thursday, Central Hardin’s win set the team up as the No. 2 seed for the district tournament next month at North Hardin. John Hardin sits in the No. 4 spot.
“It means everything,” Varela said. “As far as getting this dub tonight it means everything, without a doubt. Seeding’s everything this year, especially after, in hindsight, looking at last year, gotta be better.”
Central Hardin (4-1-1) will take part in the Bruin Classic Saturday, with games against Eastern at 9 a.m. and DeSales at 3 p.m. John Hardin (0-5) travels to Nelson County Saturday for a 2:30 p.m. matchup.