With a 1-0 win at Chagrin Falls on Monday, Harvey’s boys’ soccer team recorded its biggest win in program history.
The Red Raiders lost to the Tigers in each of the last three seasons by a combined score of 21-1. On top of that, Chagrin Falls entered the game 13-0 and ranked seventh in the Division II state poll.
“As a program, it’s a big game-changer,” Harvey coach Natalie Sisler said. “My past two years, especially against (Chagrin Valley Conference) and Chagrin Falls, we’ve struggled with them so it was nice to get that win. I think it will help to keep guys wanting to come out for the team and sticking around.”
With the win, Harvey improved to 11-1-1 on the year.
“I feel like it solidifies how we feel with what we can do this season and hopefully coming into playoffs,” Sisler said. “For our team, that gives us a lot of momentum going forward.”
Duilio Torres gave the Red Raiders a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute when he converted a free-kick set up by Julio Espinoza, who drew the foul.
“Julio was doing a great job up the field for us, keeping the ball up there and making passes. He got fouled about 30 yards out,” Sisler said. “Duilio stepped up and took the kick. It couldn’t have been a better kick. Even a centimeter higher and it probably wouldn’t have gone in the goal. It would have hit off the top post.”
That goal proved to be the game-winner as the Red Raider defense kept the Tigers out of the net.
“This year, we finally, defensively, have all the pieces that we need that we haven’t had in past years. That helped a ton,” Sisler said. “For me, the past two years and even watching the years before that, this was the best 80-minute defensive stand I’ve seen a Harvey team have. That’s great moving forward.”
Alex Llamas recorded two key saves.
The first came in the first half when he made a leaping punch save of a shot on target and the second came midway through the second when he made a diving block of a penalty kick try.
“There aren’t even words for the stress you go through as a coach, especially then,” Sisler said of the PK save. “When the foul happened we were all in shock and awe that they were calling that. The whole time, I was like, ‘Pick the right side, pick the right side.’ He does a great job in general as a goalie but on PKs especially, I feel like he does a great job. He followed the ball well and got out quick.”
That save provided the Red Raiders with the inspiration they needed to close out the game with the win and shutout.
“You could tell our guys were starting to get gassed toward the end but we were still trying to get something,” Sisler said. “Our depth this year is something we haven’t had. That helps a ton because I was able to get my wings a sub every few minutes because they were getting gassed running up and down the field. Overall, it was a great team win.”