By Ernest Stone
Generally, a sunny day with clear skies is a sports fan’s dream come true.
For the Urban School and Lick-Wilmerding High School boys soccer teams, the heat was more of an obstacle than a gift.
Yet, between both sides battling the uncharacteristic heat and running go-for-broke offensive schemes, only one team survived, with Lick-Wilmerding pulling out a 3-2 league victory.
The dogfight began not long after the opening touches, and within the first 15 minutes it became apparent that both teams were perfectly matched.
A fourth-minute strike from Urban (1-5-2, 1-3) senior forward Gabriel Kaufman was soon followed by a goal from Lick junior midfielder Demitri Barton.
“Our guys came out a lot harder than usual,” said Urban coach Antony Reyes. “Even when we gave up the first goal, we came back and responded well.”
Urban’s response came when senior Evan Chang carefully dribbled between the Lick defense and buried a shot into the bottom left corner in the 32nd minute.
“We didn’t have a good game defensively,” said Lick coach Matt Kurnick. “We fell asleep and should have had a more comfortable game than we did.”
Although Lick’s defense displeased its coach, its offense compensated.
Once again, the Tigers (6-3, 2-2) countered an Urban goal with one of their own when sophomore Daniel Wong redirected an Ashkan Farhangi assist with the outside of his foot up and over Blues goalkeeper Gabe Howden to tie the match 2-2 just before halftime.
As the second half began, Lick seemed to be the more energized and enthusiastic team. Leading the second-half surge was junior midfielder Reyzinho Deonizio, who appeared to assume control of every ball he ran after.
Deonizio’s effort paid off when just a minute after missing a goal opportunity by less than a foot, he knocked in a rebound to give the Tigers the late lead with just 12 minutes left to play.
“I know it sounds corny, but it was just a matter of keeping at it,” Deonizio said.
Deonizio’s late rebound did more than just win the match for Lick, but it saved the team from beginning league play with a 1-3 record.
“We are on our way to getting better,” said Deonizio. “Our team will surely finish the season stronger than we started.”
Unfortunately, the goal had the exact opposite effect on Urban, who fell to 1-3 after the grueling contest.