Continuing to battle

Boys soccer team enters WPIAL playoffs as No. 12 seed


Jessica Majors

Junior Joseph Hartle takes on a Hopewell Viking defender to advance the ball up the field on Oct. 12.

Jessica Majors, Photo Editor

Leading into the month of October, the boys had a record of 4-3. While their record settled on an almost even playing field, their record did not represent the battle they put into each game on the field. Throughout October, these boys gave it their all and never settled for “good.” Rather, they strove to go above and beyond to make sure they played way above their opponent’s level. They were playing as a whole, and the team atmosphere made it enjoyable for all the fans in the stadium to watch. From the constant uplifting comments from the players on the field to the players on the bench encouraging and cheering their team on, this team knew they could put up a fight against whatever came their way. 

The boys first traveled right along Route 65 to Chuck Knox Stadium to take on the Quaker Valley Quakers on Oct. 5. While the team put up a good fight, the boys came home empty-handed. They lost to the Quakers 9-0. 

The boys did not stop there, as they went to Rubenstein Stadium to take on the Ambridge Bridgers the next evening, Oct. 6. Following the loss to the Quakers, the boys could not finish the job against the Bridgers and lost 3-1. In a tight game, senior Garrett Paxton was the only one able to find the back of the net for our Freedom Bulldogs. 

After losing to the Bridgers, the boys took a day to focus on the game ahead. The boys then took on the North Catholic Trojans with a home-field advantage at Bulldog Stadium. Last year when the varsity boys took on the trojans here at Freedom, they left with one of the biggest victories in recent years. The boys walked away from a hard-fought battle with a win of 3-2. This year, on Oct. 8, was not the same feeling as the boys had hoped as they hosted the Trojans. After a long battle, the boys lost 4-1. Junior Jay Hessler was the only player that was able to beat the Trojan defense to land one in the back of the net for the Bulldogs. 

Following the loss to the Trojans, the boys hosted the Hopewell Vikings on Oct. 12 here at Bulldog Stadium. Paxton started off the game with a goal to give the boys a 1-0 lead into the half. As the boys were ahead for most of the second half, the Vikings had the opportunity for a penalty kick right as the second half was ending, and the Vikings were able to land one in Freedom’s net leading the game into overtime. With 10 extra minutes to play, both teams put up a hard fought battle, but neither were able to take the lead. This then led the Bulldogs and Vikings to double overtime. Neither team was able to gain advantage over the other, which ended the game with a 1-1 tie.

After facing the Vikings, the boys took on the Ellwood City Wolverines on Oct. 13 at Bulldog Stadium for their last home game of the season. Coming right out of the gate, junior Joseph Hartle started off the scoring, only a minute and forty-eight seconds into the game. Following Hartle, freshmen James Couch (2) and Jaden Winterhalter, sophomores Luke Snavely, Trenton Heasley and Charles Hickenboth (3) and junior Hessler managed to break free to find the back of the net for the Bulldogs. Leading the team in scoring was Hickenboth which ended with a hat trick and Couch ended the night with two goals for the Bulldogs. The Wolverines could not handle the heated Freedom Bulldogs offense and never were able to get many shots on goal. After the Bulldogs were leading into the half with a score of 10-0, the Wolverines forfeited due to not having enough healthy players to continue into the second half to finish the game. 

After a big win against Ellwood, the Bulldogs traveled to New Brighton the next day to take on the Lions on Oct. 14. With confidence from the last game, the junior varsity boys went on to beat the Lions 11-3. Just like the win against Ellwood City, many of the boys contributed scoring on the offense side to help the Bulldogs claim the victory. The Bulldogs were able to put up more than 40 shots on net and our defense held their ground and only allowed the New Brighton Lions to get six shots on net.

After wrapping up their regular season with a record of 7-6-1, the boys were able to clinch a playoff spot to compete in the WPIAL Class 2A playoffs. In the first round of the 2A playoffs, the boys will face Elizabeth Forward on Oct. 26 at 6:30 p.m. at Elizabeth Forward High School.