Warren Central using early goals to get a leg up on opponents
Published 8:16 pm Sunday, December 3, 2017
Over the years, Warren Central’s boys’ soccer team has earned a reputation as a slow-starting squad that gets better as the game goes along. Coach Greg Head said it even influences his strategy in deciding which end of the field to defend in the first half.
Lately, however, the Vikings have been striking fast and hard — and early.
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The Vikings have scored a goal in the first 10 minutes in each of their last four games. Twice, they’ve scored in the first three minutes. The quick strikes have allowed them to set the pace and play from ahead, and have often led to victories. They’re 6-2 overall this season, and have won three of the four games in which they’ve scored early.
“Scoring early helps. We’re in the lead, so we can hold off. We don’t have to worry about going and getting a goal. We can play defense and score when we can,” said senior forward Braylen Greer, who leads the team with eight goals this season. The latest scoring blitz came in Saturday’s 10-0 win over crosstown rival Vicksburg. Greer scored on a rebound just two minutes into the game, and then added another goal in the ninth minute. Graham Tweedle also had a goal in the seventh minute.
The night before, in a 3-1 loss to Northwest Rankin, Greer converted a penalty kick in the 10th minute. Greer also scored in the 10th minute of a 4-0 win over Richland earlier last week, and in the third minute of a 4-0 win over Ridgeland on Nov. 11. Oddly, in its first four games, Warren Central was held scoreless in the first half twice and gave up the first goal of the game twice.
“The first of the year, we started out slow. We weren’t usually scoring until the second half. But as we’ve been progressing we’re scoring more and more early,” Head said. “It took us a while to get to that point.”
Head said the increase in early goals has flowed from an attacking mindset amongst his players.
“That’s our mindset anyway. On a kickoff, we don’t play it back. We want to take it to them and attack,” Head said. “A lot of teams play it all the way back. We might do that if we get scored on a couple of times, but until we do that our mindset is to push it up and attack. I can’t even get my kids to drop it back. And we want to attack early. We want to set the precedent that we’re here to play.”