The key word of the night was “finish.”
The Seaforth men’s soccer team has had trouble putting teams away this season, giving up leads in the final minutes.
Before facing the unbeaten defending conference champions Jordan-Matthews, the Hawks, who were on a four-game losing streak, made up their minds that they weren’t going to let that happen anymore.
Seaforth not only handed the Jets their first loss of the season — it also held them to zero goals for the first time all year in a convincing 3-0 win.
Led by junior goalie Jack Haste, who had 14 saves, the Hawks held off an aggressive Jets team and made the necessary plays down the stretch to keep them grounded.
“We’re a good team,” Seaforth head coach Giovanni Viana said. “We just had to learn to close out a game. Closing out a game against a perennial conference champion on our home turf was an awesome feeling. I’m so proud of the boys.”
Jordan-Matthews came out the gate firing, keeping the ball on the Seaforth side for most of the first half and taking numerous shots at the goal.
Haste set the tone early, blocking every shot in his reach, including one at close range that he stopped with his face.
“Jack, since he was a freshman, has been amazing for our team,” Viana said. “Tonight, he just shut it down.”
Some of the Jets’ misses were more on themselves and less on Haste, though. For most of the first half, Jordan-Matthews controlled the tempo, but it couldn’t capitalize on scoring opportunities, missing high at times.
Seaforth didn’t waste its chances to score, however. With just under 11 minutes to go in the first half, junior Logan Sparrow found senior Luigi Baccarelli streaking towards the goal for the Hawks’ first score of the game.
That was Baccarelli’s eighth goal this season.
Up 1-0, Seaforth became more assertive offensively, taking more shots at the goal in an effort to build on its lead.
Five minutes into the second half, junior Blake Price hit a free kick from midfield to put Seaforth up, 2-0.
Then, at the 25:30 mark, freshman Scottie Allen gave the Hawks a commanding 3-0 lead with a shot to the bottom right corner of the goal.
“Just the movement off the ball and the combination play,” Viana said about the second half offense. “Guys just trusting each other, looking to combine as opposed to going solo. It was a team effort.”
At that point, it was closing time for Seaforth — a team that had just given up a 3-2 lead in the last six minutes of the loss to Southeast Alamance two nights before.
With hopes to keep its undefeated season alive, Jordan-Matthews didn’t let up. The Jets continued to attack Haste and the Seaforth defense, but still failed to convert.
They even had a chance to cut the lead down to two on a penalty kick late in the second half. One-on-one with Haste, Jordan-Matthews’ Edgar Pascual kicked the ball to the right, but Haste read it perfectly to make the stop.
That save put a stamp on his night and the seal on the game.
“I’m pretty good at guessing,” Haste said. “I knew he was way too wide. He was going right. I knew it all the way. He opened up his body, (and) I went. Made the save. You don’t really remember those moments. You just zone out.”
With the win, the Hawks finally overcame their issues with finishing games, and they did so against one of the toughest teams they’ll face all year.
Seaforth has been in tight battles with good teams all season, a testament to its talent and valuable coaching staff. But now, the Hawks have the signature win to show they can not only compete with the best, but they can beat the best.