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By Dennis Atwood - firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- After three games, Handley senior David Cesnik has nothing to show for his soccer season.
However, because he's a goalkeeper, that's a really good stat.
Cesnik was proud to shut out the Heritage Pride, 2-0, in the championship match of the Judges' tournament Saturday afternoon.
The most serious challenge to Cesnik's season of total denial came with 20:30 left in the second half.
Handley defender Levi Stein drew a yellow card for tripping Heritage's Christian Thomas in the penalty box.
Thomas set up at the penalty mark, a mere 36 feet from the goal line, and Cesnik set up in the middle. That's where Thomas sent his penalty kick and Cesnik deflected it to his left with both hands.
"I had it the whole time," Cesknik said. "I knew exactly where he was going and the way I set myself, the way he was looking, I knew exactly where he was going the whole time. No doubt in my mind."
Cesknik also shut out Liberty in Handley's 8-0 semifinal game on Thursday and Broadway in the Judges' 4-0 season-opening win.
"David Cesnik had one heck of a game," Judges coach Cosmo Balio said. "He's come into his own, finally. This game gave him some more confidence and [defending] that PK was huge for him."
Cesnik nearly shut himself out of the opportunity to be on the team.
"We thought we were gonna be hurting a little bit, losing Stefano Frantellizzi, our goalie last year, who went to Texas," Balio said. "We were kinda scratching our heads -- where are we gonna go? [Cesnik] got cut last year. He wanted to play the field, not goal. I asked him to think about coming back [as goalie]. He started thinking about it and showed up in pre-season.
"We're glad he's here. He'd been with us a long time and it was a difficult decision to cut him. I told him, 'Last year's last year. Let's go forward,' and he's accepted it. He wanted to be on the field and now he is."
The Judges scored early in each half Saturday.
A little over four minutes into the game, senior Gene Ogilvie took an inside-out pass from David Ko outside the left corner of the penalty box and launched a 20-yard shot that glanced off junior keeper Jared Rohrbaugh's fingertips and ricocheted off the crossbar into the goal.
"I knew I struck it good, I was just hoping the keeper wouldn't save it," Ogilvie said. "I knew I struck it pretty good. It was with my left foot -- my off-foot. That was the first goal of the year, so hopefully there's more to come."
Heritage had the better feet in the first half with four shots on goal, five corner kicks and two direct kicks to Handley's two shots on goal, five direct kicks and no corner kicks.
A Pride corner kick within the last two minutes was taken as a header on the back penalty box line by Norlyn Lopez, but a fully-extended Cesnik kept it out of the goal.
In the second half, Handley junior Donovan Varney launched an arcing 25-yard shot from the right side that went over freshman goalie Paul Conteh and nestled in the left side of the net with a little over four minutes gone in the second half.
"I like kicking in [longer-range shots]," Varney said. "I definitely like scoring, so I'll take as many shots as I can. I saw the sun was in [the goalie's eyes] so I figured I might as well try it.
"At halftime coach [Balio] just said for us to get out there and play our hearts out."
The wind was also a factor throughout the game. The Judges had the wind at their offensive backs in the second half.
"I just felt like the pressure that we were able to apply, along with the wind, kind of played into our game plan," Balio said. "We were looking to play high pressure and force them into mistakes and play off those mistakes. We were actually playing with 12 guys for a little bit, it felt like."
"I don't think the wind had any factor in it at all," Heritage coach Betsy Munson said. "We really just didn't have the desire to put the ball in the back of the net today. We missed opportunities on corner kicks and penalty kicks. You only get so many chances in soccer. When you don't capitalize on them, you don't win. That's the bottom line."