“Next man up” has been the working philosophy of the Hanford boys soccer team since coach Mike Pardini took over as coach in 2013.
That creed was especially appropriate during the Falcons 6-1 win over North Central in the District 5/8 sub-regional tournament Tuesday in Richland.
Not only was Hanford missing all-Mid-Columbia Confer-ence forward Will Bishop, who sat out with a leg injury, but the Falcons were also without central defender Kyle McMurrich and Pardini, who were barred from participating after taking red cards in the team’s regular-season finale last Tuesday.
Pardini couldn’t even attend the game. Hanford assistant coach Chip Elfering, a former head coach at Southridge, walked the sidelines for his good friend and compatriot.
“He had to stay at home. He’s miserable and has been all day. He’s been sending us messages about what we should do,” Elfering said. “He wants to be involved. It’s hard for him not to be here.”
But as they were taught, the Falcons simply turned to the next man up. Elfering kept the players focused on the job ahead of moving forward in the regional playoffs, and Nick Carlson stepped in for McMurrich in central defense.
Instead of lamenting the loss of one man on offense, Hanford turned to six different players for goals and outshot North Central 40-4 in a dominating performance.
“Coach said if we can get the ball wide and open them up we could get plenty of shots off,” said Falcons forward Will Eldred, who recorded a goal and an assist. “We just kept pressuring and working. It was all about the work rate. We wanted to make a statement that we’re here to play.”
Hanford (15-2) will face MCC foe Kennewick (12-5) on Thursday in a rematch of last year’s Class 3A state quarterfinals. The teams split their regular-season matchups, with both teams winning on the road.
Hanford got started quickly, putting up six shots in the first 10 minutes as the North Central defenders couldn’t keep the Falcons from finding space down the wing. After Hanford came close on two attempts on goal, Iovani Rodriguez knocked in a cross from Mario Zarate in the fourth minute to put the Falcons up 1-0.
Zarate got his second of three assists on the day in the 18th minute, sending a cross to the far post for Eldred, who headed it past Indians’ goalkeeper Kiernan McKinley to make it 2-0.
Three minutes later, McKinley made a diving save to stop Joseph Ghirardo’s liner, but Tyler Wiegand tapped home the ensuing rebound for a 3-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Kelly Smith, a senior central defender, naturally missed McMurrich in the back third but didn’t skip a beat next to Carlson, an established club player.
“Me and Nick have played club for years, so we had a good connection back there,” Smith said. “We had players to slide in, and we have depth in back, which makes it easy to sub in and out. And Chip is a great assistant coach when Mike is around, but he’s an even better head coach when he needs to step up.”
Smith was particularly taken with the younger players who had a chance to contribute.
“I was impressed with our play from sophomores Iovani (Rodriguez) and Eldred. Both of them getting goals was a huge statement. It says we have underclassmen that can step up,” Smith said. “We got the amount of goals we wanted. I wish we hadn’t let in that set piece, but in the grand scheme it’s probably not going to make a huge difference.”
Dominic Deatherage scored North Central’s only goal, but paid a price for it. Indians forward Drew Williams fired a hard free kick on goal from 25 yards out in the 72nd minute. Hanford defender got his head on it, but redirected it into Deatherage’s nose, drawing some blood.
Luckily, the rebound went past Falcons keeper Jacob Thiel to put North Central on the board. Deatherage was dazed on the play and left the field briefly but did return with plenty of cotton jammed up his nostrils.
“I asked him, ‘Did you score?’ ” said Indians coach Matt Leonard, who attended to him on the field. “He said, ‘I don’t know.’ ”
Hanford led 5-0 at halftime. Its only second-half goal came when senior Weli Alden set up on the right wing and curled a well-placed shot with his left foot inside the left post.
“The kids were very coachable today. We asked them to do certain things, and they did that,” Elfering said.
Scoring—1, H, Iovani Rodriguez (Mario Zarate), 4:00; 2, H, Will Eldred (Zarate), 18:00; 3, H, Tyler Wiegand, 21:00; 4, H, Joel Johnson (Zarate), 38:00; 5, H, Joseph Ghirardo (Eldred), 39:00; 6, NC, Dominic Deatherage, 72:00; 7, H, Weli Aden, 78:00. Shots—NC 4, H 40. Saves—NC, Kiernan McKinley 15. H, Jacob Thiel 2.