MADISON >> It’s taken half the season, but Hand boys soccer coach Stan Latkowski believes things are starting to come together for his Tigers.
Of course, playing your top rival helps raise the level of play a few notches.
A pair of first-half goals less than three minutes apart helped the Tigers hand Guilford its first loss 3-0 at the Surf Club Tuesday night.
“I think these guys are figuring out that they can play,” Latkowski said. “I think this win will catapult us forward.”Hand (5-3, 3-0), which opened the season 0-2, is now one game up on Guilford (5-1-2, 2-1) in defense of its SCC Hamonasset Division championship. The Tigers reached the Class L state semifinals last season.
“From what I’ve seen out there, and understanding our potential, I think we have a chance to do something good here,” Latkowski said.
If Hand plays defense like it did Tuesday night, another state tournament run could be in the offing.
Hand held Guilford without a shot in the opening half. Guilford’s first shot didn’t come until 13 minutes had gone by in the second half. Hand goalkeeper Nicholas Nelson didn’t have to make a single save.
“I was surprised at that yes,” Guilford coach Joe Maher said. “We have been struggling to score, but we have had our opportunities. We didn’t create any dangerous chances (Tuesday).”
Hand’s Christian Koshgarian broke the scoreless tie 19 minutes into the game with a header past Guilford goalkeeper Nate Wilson. Rich Sangster had the assist.
Less than three minutes later, Koshgarian this time had the assist, a corner kick that Brian Jackson knocked in.
In the 59th minute, Gianluca Perrotti crossed to John Collins for Hand’s third goal.
“Even some of their crosses from 40-50 yards out were on the money, 6-8 feet off the ground,” Maher said about Hand. “We tried to defend them the best we could, but they are an outstanding team. … Right now. I’m happy to be 5-1-2. The kids have played well. I think we have played above our heads.”
Said Latkowski: “Just our athleticism and speed took everything out of them. We have the potential to play like that. We are inconsistent, but when we can get it going, and the way the back four played, we will be tough to beat.”