The Seton Catholic boys soccer team thought 2020 was going to be the Cougars’ year under first-year coach Antonio Buckley.
And then the pandemic wiped out the Cougars’ season.
Now the Seton boys are determined to make 2021 even better. And the Cougars took a big step by posting a 3-1 win over La Center in a battle of unbeaten Trico League teams.
“Last year, we felt like it was our year,” Buckley said. “We had a good senior class, and it was our year. And then that happened. But it was tough on everyone. We’re just happy to be back. And in many ways, this team is going to be better than the one we would have had last year.”
The Cougars still have junior David Moore, who supplied assists for all three goals – two by Dennis Babiy and one by freshman Elijah Wall.
“This win is actually very big,” Moore said. “This year we’re chasing the league championship, first time ever in our school history. This was our big roadblock in our way and we defeated it. We still have a lot of games left. Every game is equally important. But we’re planning on winning tomorrow.”
Seton brought a lot of pressure early on La Center, but the Wildcats were able to take a quick counter and turn it into a goal by Brendon Leach for a 1-0 lead in the fourth minute.
“I told the guys all week, Brandon and those other guys are dangerous,” Buckley said. “One pass to him, if we hesitate, he’s going to make us pay. And that’s what happened.”
But Moore was proud by the way his teammates responded to that early setback.
“For our team, it was one bad mistake,” Moore said. “But we all tried to stay positive and fought back to get the win. No matter what mistakes we make, we’re always going to fight back. That’s what we do.”
On the first goal, Moore hit a corner kick, then yelled at teammate Imaan Mohandessi to let the ball go past him so Babiy could get the shot.
“I knew Imaan didn’t have as well of an angle as Dennis did,” Moore said. “I knew he was going to do his thing once I gave him the ball.”
Buckley said: “David is a special player. He is more vocal on the field than anyone else. All of the guys who play the middle are team leaders. They feed off each other. But David is smart. He knows the game. It’s like having another coach out there. I trust him. They trust him if he gives them instructions.”
Buckley said Moore has been encouraging Babiy to shoot the ball more. The senior did Tuesday, including hitting one from 30 yards out in the second half that put Seton up 3-1.
Tuesday’s win moved Seton to 4-0 on the season. The Cougars face Columbia Adventist (3-1) on Thursday.
But if the Cougars keep playing together, Moore is confident they can achieve their goals.
“I’m really proud of these boys, I really am,” Moore said. “Every time we step on the field, we all talk together, and the first thing we say is ‘family.’ We’re a family. Everything we do, we do for each other.”