Hawks open season with big win over Heritage

Viera High keeper Andrew Sanger (in green) goes high to knock the ball away from a charging Heritage player during Tuesday night's season opener. Sanger and the Hawks got the shutout as Viera won the game 4-0.

Well, that was impressive.

The Viera High boys soccer team opened its season Tuesday night against a Heritage team that has had some very close matchups with the Hawks over the past five seasons.

Only this time, there was no doubt.

Yorgen Torres scored twice, Gabe Shelton and Max May each had a goal and the defense led by goalkeeper Andrew Sanger posted a clean sheet as Viera defeated the visiting Panthers 4-0 at Hawk Stadium.

“I’m 100% happy with the result, but more than anything, I’m happy with a performance like that,” Viera coach Nick Robinson said. “Predominantly in the past, this has always been a very tight game.’

“It’s really good to start off at home. Four goals and a clean sheet … can’t ask for much more.”

Viera and Heritage have met six times over the past five seasons. Three of those games ended in ties. Only two of the games (a 3-1 Viera in in 2017 and a 3-0 Heritage win in 2016) saw either team score more than one goal in a single contest.

“I think we played really well,” Viera senior Nyles Lockridge said. “It was big competition. Heritage … it’s been close throughout the years. To come out and win 4-0, it felt good.”

Tuesday night was a big night for Lockridge as well after missing all of last season with a torn ACL and MCL while his team went 17-3-2.

“I liked seeing them win,” he said. “But without me, I kind of felt left out.”

Well, Lockridge is definitely a big part of the Hawks going forward as he proved Tuesday night. In addition to a strong defensive effort, he also had a long throw-in that led to the first goal by Torres, who put the Hawks up 1-0.

Torres, a junior who also missed last season with a knee injury, made it 2-0 Viera with 24:53 remaining in the first half to help set the tone for the rest of the evening.

“It’s good to have him back,” Robinson said of Torres. “He gives us a different weapon in our front four. He’s a bit more direct, likes to get in behind (the defense) and he’s hard to deal with.

“He’s a hustle and bustle kind of forward, and he can finish. We’re kind of easing him back into it.”

Shelton, a sophomore, scored his goal off a corner kick from senior John Anasa to make it 3-0. May’s goal came in the second half after the freshman beat a challenge by the Heritage keeper and was able to knock the ball into an open net.

Overall, it was a strong performance from a Viera starting lineup that included Sanger; Max Walker; Austin Kehoe; Lockridge; Aidan Barnett; Evan Kirrane; Conner Floyd; Jack Koegel; Torres and Lucas Patikas.

“We’ve got a lot of guys that … I’m trying to find the best way to get their strengths out of them amongst this team,” Robinson said. “Today, we had seven new starters since last year. It’s a big jump.

“We’re trying to figure out where everyone fits in the system. Tonight, was a hard one for me because everyone did well. But we know we’ve got a long way to go.”

The Hawks (1-0) will face another tough challenge on Thursday when they travel to play Eau Gallie.

“That’s always a tough game,” Robinson said. “For me, this week is a good test to see where we’re at.”