A first-year head coach couldn’t have scripted a season any better than Joe Kelly did with the HRV boys JV soccer team.
Not only did the JV’s match the varsity squad with 11 wins in their first Intermountain Conference season, but they were also unbeaten over the final 12 games after starting the season 0-2.
“It was pretty amazing, really,” Kelly said of the junior-dominated Eagles side, which finished 11-2-1. “It was really good to see our guys bounce back after a difficult start and put together a run like that.”
The Eagles scored 35 goals and gave up only 16 this season — four of which occurred in the first two losses. Junior Jeremy Belcher led a solid defensive unit that relied on the good hands of goalkeepers Jorge Rivera (soph.) and Angel Rojas (junior).
Junior Stephen Hanners and sophomore Ricardo Muñoz anchored a strong midfield, while Christopher Gabriel (soph.), David McCallum and Luis Muñoz spearheaded the attack.
Ricardo Muñoz and Luis Angulo finished the season as the top point getters (assists plus goals), while Gabriel was the top scorer.
“We had a talented group of players who played good ball possession soccer when they were on the field together,” Kelly said. “I would have to say that our biggest strength was ball control and unselfish team play.”
One of the team’s best ball handlers, Hanners, was rewarded for a strong 2002 campaign by being called up to the varsity team for the playoffs.
“I don’t know how much I’ll play, but it’s still pretty exciting,” he said.
Hanners and seven other juniors will be competing next year for the 10 varsity spots that will be vacated due to graduation.