Urbana High School boys soccer coach Scott Schartner was ready and eager to compliment freshman Francisco Contreras in a postgame interview following his standout effort in the Hawks’ 2-1 victory against Winston Churchill on Wednesday. The coach lowered his voice, smiled, and sheepishly admitted he had forgotten Francisco’s last name.
It’s likely Schartner won’t forget it again.
Contreras scored the game-winning goal in Urbana’s season opener on a 25-yard strike, which came after he played an integral role in the Hawks’ equalizer two minutes prior. He also played sound defense with Urbana playing a man down for a majority of the second half.
“His goal was just a thing of beauty,” Schartner said of Contreras. “We’ve seen him do that in training. This is his first varsity game. For him to do that in his first varsity outing is pretty special.”
After Urbana tied the game at 1-1 in the 34th minute, Contreras settled the ball following the ensuing kickoff seven yards outside the penalty area and struck a powerful right-footer than curled just under the crossbar and over the outstretched hand of Churchill goalkeeper Eli Tobias (5 saves). The two-goal, two-minute stretch left the Bulldogs a bit shocked.
“When they scored their second goal, everyone was kind of in awe that we were losing,” said senior captain Crispin Muessle.
Six minutes into the second half, senior midfielder Riley Spain was issued a red card for a dangerous challenge at midfield. Despite playing with 11 men to Urbana’s 10 for the rest of the game, Churchill was unable to score the equalizer against a tactically sound Urbana side. The Bulldogs did, however, come close.
In the 56th minute, junior midfielder Gabe Ros crossed the ball from the far right corner where senior right back Chris Rahimi slammed it on goal. But Urbana senior goalkeeper Brian Howell (3 saves) made the save of the match, deflecting the ball out of harm’s way.
“The guys pulled together brilliantly,” Schartner said. “They played for each other. They maintained their compactness defensively. When [Spain got the red card], we had to change a lot. These guys were able to do that on the fly and did very, very well.”
Churchill scored the match’s first goal in the 20th minute when Tobias sent a goal kick soaring into the attacking third. Muessle settled the ball and caught Urbana’s back line sleeping as he blew past a defender and beat Howell to the far post.
Fourteen minutes later, Hawks senior captain Paul Windsor was on the receiving end of a solid service by William Eskay to knot the score at 1-1. Earlier in the play, Contreras executed a strong slide tackle to strip the ball from Muessle near midfield and create the scoring chance.
“I guess they fell in love with how well they were playing and just got a bit complacent,” Churchill coach Arnold Tarzy said of his team’s play after the opening 30 minutes. “They were a little too relaxed and Urbana capitalized on it. And I thought Urbana showed a lot of grit to hold on with a man down.”
Churchill will attempt to rebound Saturday against Good Counsel while Urbana travels to Frederick on Thursday night.
Urbana 2, Winston Churchill 1
Urbana (1-0) 2 0 — 2
Winston Churchill (2-1) 1 0 — 1
Urbana — Paul Windsor, Francisco Contreras
Winston Churchill — Crispin Muessle
Urbana — William Eskay
Winston Churchill — Eli Tobias