With each passing game this fall, Wilde Lake’s boys soccer team has been creating a few more believers.
Following Monday night’s come-from-behind road victory over Howard in a steady rain, improving the team to 6-0 overall, that bandwagon undoubtedly is set to become a little more crowded.
After what coach Trevor Shea called a lackluster first half that led to a 1-0 deficit, the Wildecats scored three times in the early stages of the second half and cruised the rest of the way to a 3-1 victory. Ethan Shulgold scored twice and Kyle Eylanbekov once to lead the offensive outburst down the stretch.
“I don’t know what it was, maybe it was this being a rescheduled Monday game or the weather being drab, but there was absolutely no energy from us in that first half,” Shea said. “But at halftime we rallied back together and assured them that all we needed to do was get that first one. We just had a feeling that if we could get that that momentum, we weren’t going to lose it.”
Wilde Lake is now 3-0 in county play, joining River Hill as the only two teams still unbeaten in the league.
Shea, who took over as head coach in 2016, says it’s been a building process. His first year the team went 6-8-1 overall, then last fall it improved to 7-7-2.
This year, with a strong core —highlighted by a junior class that includes Eylanbekov and Shulgold that have been on varsity since they were freshmen — the team appears poised to take that next step.
“We’ve definitely been improving every season and this has kind of been the vision from when I first started here,” Shea said. “And a big piece of it this season has been the addition of Dave Nesbitt to the coaching staff, who has won state championships at Wilde Lake as a player. He’s provided a different look and coaching style that I think has really complimented what we already had in place. It’s just all kind of coming together.”
Against Howard (1-2, 2-2) it certainly wasn’t easy sledding. The Lions came out and grabbed an early 1-0 lead courtesy of a goal by Karl Quist-Therson off an assist from Tyler Prevost. The score stayed the same heading into halftime.
“We’ve been talking about starting fast all year and how important the start to the game is, so it was great to see us put one in during the first few minutes,” Howard coach Nils Schroder said.
But following the intermission, with the rain picking up and Howard playing down a man after receiving a red card in the opening half, Wilde Lake changed the tide. Shulgold provided both the equalizer and go-ahead scores within minutes of each other.
Then later, Eylanbekov provided the insurance.
Jackson Pittman, Adam Loudin and Jack Swain picked up the assists on the three scores.
“We’ve been talking a lot about how to finish and seal out a game, so getting the lead and continuing to push forward that was big for us,” Shea said. “You look back at even last year, like our game against River Hill, we just really struggled with getting leads and holding them. Already this year we’ve shown great improvement in that area.”
On the other end, Wilde Lake’s defense buckled down in the closing half to hold the Lions scoreless and secure the win. Goalie Gabrial Viteri finished with 11 saves for the Wildecats.
Wilde Lake (3-0 county, 6-0) — 3, Howard (1-2, 2-2) — 1
Goals: WL – Shulgolf 2, Eylanbekov; Ho – Quist-Therson.
Assists: WL – Pittman, Loudin, Swain; Ho – Prevost.
Half: 1-0 Ho.
Reach Brent Kennedy at email@example.com or follow him on twitter @BKBSunSports