Tigers have plenty to feel good about after tie with Melbourne

Holy Trinity's Ty Englehart goes up for a header during Friday night's game between the Tigers and the Melbourne Bulldogs. The game ended in a scoreless tie.

The Holy Trinity Tigers will head into the winter break feeling pretty good about the state of their team following Friday night’s scoreless tie against Melbourne.

After a first half in which head coach Adrian Moreno felt his team played “scared” for 30 of the 40 minutes, the Tigers put on a much better showing against the heavily-favored Bulldogs in the second half and certainly had their opportunities to come away with the win.

“I thought the first 10 minutes, it was back and forth and then the last 30, everyone was taking a step back,” Moreno said. “I was telling them, ‘Why? Why are you sitting back?’ Then at halftime, we got them in and said, ‘You guys have got to step (up). You’ve got to play. They have all the pressure to win. You don’t have any pressure. We’re a little 3A school.’

“They put on a show in the second half. We had our chances.”

The Tigers had a number of players step up throughout the game, particularly two who are new to the team this season.

“Our striker, Dylan Gibson, not coming from a soccer background – he’s a lacrosse player – was phenomenal tonight,” Moreno said. “He got in behind and put pressure on their center backs. Our goalkeeper, Robert (Varnes), who has never played goalkeeper in his life until this season, had a phenomenal game, catching everything that was thrown at him.

“And I think Will Bell in the back line played really well. Those three in the back tonight were strong for us.”

With Melbourne (7-1-2) constantly trying to push the ball upfield and challenge the Holy Trinity defense, the Tigers did a good job of in the midfield and in the back of not letting the Bulldogs find easy scoring opportunities.

And when the Class 6A Bulldogs did get their shots off, Varnes was there to save them.

Holy Trinity (5-2-2) also did a good job of applying pressure itself, getting the ball to Gibson, or trying to take in from the wing.

“It’s obviously a good result. I’m happy with the team,” Bell said. “We played really well. It was really hard fought. Obviously, we don’t try to tie a game. We want to win. … I don’t think we played like we were (trying to tie).

“A lot of teams go against Mel and just sit back. We actually tried to play them and we got our chances. Both keepers played great.”

Speaking just as the season started, Moreno, Bell and co-captain Brock Shoultz all said it would take until … well, just around Christmas time … for all the new pieces on the team to come together.

Some of those pieces included Gibson and Ty Englehart, who had yet to join the team at that point. Now that they have, and the younger players are gaining more experience, things are starting to fall into place.

“With being such a young team and having so many new players – we have four returning players – I always knew we had the talent, we just needed to start to click,” Bell said.

“I think this was the first true game where we finally clicked. We fully just bought into it and we fully gave it our all.”

With games against bigger schools like Viera (Jan. 7), Heritage (Jan. 12), Satellite (Jan. 14) and Eau Gallie (Jan. 19) waiting for the Tigers in the second half, they will certainly have a chance to be tested before making their push toward what would be a third-straight district title.

“I think it’s coming together really well,” Moreno said. “Now that Ty is in, you have Ty winning every header in the middle of the field. That gives Brock (Shoultz) a little more freedom to move around.

“I think we’re looking really good, really strong. I’ve just got to get through a couple of kids with injuries right now and we should be battling it out toward the end of January. We’ll see what happens.”