There’s a rhythm to the game of soccer. That’s Warren County Head Coach Derek Hetz’s explanation for why his team jumped and bounced a soccer ball together in practice this week.

He wanted them to move together. To be in rhythm together and it may have helped the Wildcats pick up their first win of the season.

“If you’ve watched soccer and played soccer there is definitely a rhythm to it, so we just did a circle where we were bouncing to the ball and trying to get that rhythm to where everybody’s got that same heartbeat,” Hetz explained. “Once you feel that rhythm it’s easier to keep that rhythm. It was a lot of fun. I think the guys enjoyed it.”

Hetz said his team can still improve on their rhythm and chemistry, but the Wildcats were able to work together enough to pick up their first win of the season. Warren County capitalized on their lone penalty kick opportunity, and defeated Central 1-0 on the road. The win makes them 1-1 on the season. While Central opens its season with a tight loss.

“I think that put us in sync a little better than the first game,” Warren County goalie Cody Crawford said of the unique drill Coach Hetz had them do during the week. “We played really well. The ball movement was a lot better than the first game.”

Crawford’s play in the net was a key to the Wildcats’ victory. Late in the first half, Central seemed to be getting the majority of the scoring chances. With 19 minutes remaining, forward Juan Rojas Bonilla was able to sprint past Warren County’s defenders, but Crawford saved his shot to keep the score at 0-0.

Just five minutes later, another Central rush led to a hard shot by Brandon Gwyn. Crawford jumped to get to the ball and punched it over the goal, preventing a Falcon’s score for a second time.

“I just kind of reacted to the ball and I just hoped for the best,” Crawford said after the game. “They had some good shots. It was definitely like a heart attack for me when I first saved it.”

Those saves kept the scored at 0-0 at halftime, but Central coach John Trelawny saw a lot of positives from his team because of how they created those chances. Trelawny said he’s trying to change the way his players think about soccer. He’s encouraging them to think about why they make decisions, instead of just think about what they’re supposed to do. He hopes this leads to more intelligent play from his team throughout the season.

“At the end of the day, they’re the guys on the field that are making those decisions and for some of these guys it’s the first time that they’ve been asked those questions,” Trelawny said of his philosophy. “There are some growing pains and we saw some of that, but I think that overall the group has really bought into what we’re trying to do and I think it showed today.”

Early in the second half, the momentum swung in the Wildcats’ favor. Dylan Hetz was tripped up by a Central defender, leading to a penalty kick opportunity for the Wildcats. Ethan Funk took the kick and shot it into the top right corner of the net, past the outstretched hands of Falcons goalie Aiden Mercer.

“I just felt confident stepping up to shoot it and I scored,” Funk said. “You have to because at that point the game could go either way so you have to score.”

Central tried to battle back, but the Falcons were unable to beat Crawford to find a tying goal. They did have a few big chances, including what Crawford considered his biggest save of the night when a Central forward created a one-on-one opportunity against the keeper.

“I just remember I had to make the save because we were up one-nothing. It was a big shot for them and a big save for us,” Crawford said. “I think it helped with the momentum a lot.”

Warren County will look to build off their first win of the season when they face Eastern View on the road next week in a rematch of their season opening loss.

Central’s next contest is next week against Skyline, but due to some COVID-19 concerns from some of the opponents they originally had on the schedule they’re looking to add some new opponents after they face the Hawks. Trelawny hopes he’s able to adjust his schedule soon, but added he’s thankful for the opportunity for his team to play after 2020 spring sports were stopped before a game.

“I’m just grateful to be back out here playing again. I think the guys were super excited going through warm-ups to finally be doing it again almost two years down the road,” he said. “It was pretty awesome to be a part of it.”