WILMINGTON – A little rain and lightning were not enough to keep St. Elizabeth from hosting McKean in the Vikings’ 2023 boys soccer season opener on Sept. 8.
The Vikings, playing their first game at their new home, Banning Park, withstood several offensive forays against the Highlanders, who employed an aggressive approach the entire game. McKean did pick up five goals, but the strong play of goalkeeper Justin Bozzo kept the final margin within reason.
McKean scored in the 12th minute, converting a turnover into a goal. Joel Becerra drilled the ball from about 25 yards out into the upper 90 above Bozzo.
Six minutes later, St. Elizabeth responded. A deep throw-in for the Vikings led to a loose ball about 20 yards out. Matthew Acholla got to it and sent a shot to the left of the Highlanders’ keeper. The ball deflected off a defender and rolled into the corner of the net for the tie.
Bozzo stood out for most of the rest of the half for the Vikings. He made several saves, including some very acrobatic ones, and he got some help from the post on a header after a McKean throw-in.
There was little he could do on the Highlanders’ second goal. A goal kick skipped downfield, and McKean got to it and drove in before James Castano approached from the left and fired a shot into the net.
With four minutes remaining in the first half, play was suspended because of lightning. As players and fans took cover, a light rain began to fall on the turf field. The intensity increased for about 15 minutes before the skies cleared and the players returned to the pitch.
McKean resumed with the pressure defense, and it paid dividends in the final 90 seconds of the half. Becerra one-touched a pass into the net to make it 3-1 at the half.
Donovan Martinez and Dominic Burgos also scored for McKean.
The Highlanders (1-1) have their home opener on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. against St. Georges.
Bozzo finished with 10 saves for St. Elizabeth (0-1), who begins a three-game road trip on Monday at Odyssey Charter at 3:30 p.m.
All photos by Mike Lang.