Park boys soccer: Defense helps Wolfpack get off to strong startThis fall, Park has gotten off to a 3-1 start, allowing just two goals along the way.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, South Washington County Bulletin
For decades, the backbone of the successful Park girls soccer program has been its stingy defense. Taking a page their female colleagues, the Park boys soccer team is fielding its own staunch defense so far this season – and it’s working.
This fall, Park has gotten off to a 3-1 start, allowing just two goals along the way.
“Offense is something we can build as the season progresses whereas defense is the foundation that we have to master immediately,” Park head coach Jason Arnebeck said. “Our kids have come together very well and that begins with our fours captains as well as all the other players who have been willing to follow their lead.”
Most recently, Park won its first Suburban East Conference game of the season, 1-0 over Cretin-Derham Hall on Friday in St. Paul. Also, last week, Park (3-1; 1-0 SEC) finally almost topped perennial thorn-in-the-side Eagan, but the sixth-ranked Wildcats won 1-0. Eagan (2-1) has beaten Park the last five times they’ve played, including ending the Wolfpack’s season in the section playoffs the past three years.
Earlier this year, Park beat Coon Rapids 2-1 and Robbinsdale Cooper 1-0.
“Our strength so far in the season has been a sting defense allowing a half goal a game,” Arnebeck said. “Offensively, the positional players are beginning to understand their roles and the style we need to play to become more dangerous.”
In the win over Cretin-Derham Hall (1-2-1; 0-1 SEC), Park senior attacker Nick Hajovy scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal on a beautiful bent ball from roughly 25 yards out. Hajovy has three of Park’s four goals this season. Also, in the game, Park sophomore midfielder Joey Buytendorp earned his first varsity point in the game with an assist on Hajovy’s tally and senior goalie Jordan Gollner pitched the shutout for the Wolfpack. On the year, Gollner has faced 29 shots and has 28 saves and a 0.50 Goals Against Average.
“Jordan has been solid in goal for us all season long,” Arnebeck said. “This team has character, class, and an attitude that allows them to be successful even when their backs are against the wall. They never stop working and when we win matches, it is only because everybody contributes from the starters who take the field through the subs who see 10 minutes. Everybody contributes to the numbers on the scoreboard when the final whistle is blown.”
Park took on Duluth East (3-2) on Tuesday, after the Bulletin went to press. Next, the Wolfpack pays a visit to rival Woodbury (2-2; 1-0 SEC) on Thursday.
“Woodbury is a young team with a lot of quickness and will gain Won Suk Chung (East Ridge’s leading scorer last year) when they play us Thursday,” Arnebeck said. “We will have to be ready to move our feet and communicate with one another if we want to have another successful week.”