Kingwood happy to be at home a year after Harvey
Andrew Kovacik put on his shin guards and laced up his cleats for Kingwood’s District 22-6A home opener on Jan. 22.
It wasn’t just a regular game for the boys soccer team.
The Mustangs were finally at home.
“It was definitely nice,” said the Kingwood captain. “Considering last year we didn’t have an atmosphere at Turner Stadium. The fans were spread so much that you couldn’t hear them at all. Now, we can hear our fans and it definitely helps motivate us.”
Kingwood defeated the Sam Rayburn 4-3 in its home opener with the first goal coming from sophomore Chase Cherrington.
It was the first boys soccer game at Mustangs Stadium since Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on the Kingwood community, flooding the high school.
The damage moved Kingwood students to Summer Creek High School for classes and athletics.
The soccer teams practiced at Summer Creek and played their home games at Turner Stadium.
“It felt great to be back home,” said coach Bryan Jennings. “Not having to stress about getting equipment or who needs a ride to practice. Now, all of that is erased. Being able to come back home, the kids responded well to play in front of the crowd. Some kids have never played on this field before and this is their first time. There’s less chaos now, and the community has supported this team well.”
The Mustangs like having their loud student section and fans in the stands.
“It was a special moment for us,” said captain Manuel Malvaez. “It was like a homecoming game for us, and it felt great. To get back on our home turf was special.”
Jennings could tell that fans from the community were hype over the new field. The new field turf was completed in April.
“We lost some fans being over at Turner Stadium,” Jennings said. “Not a lot of people could get there with everything that was going on. Now, that we’re back at home the trails are opened around the community and more kids can get to the stadium. You definitely could see them in the crowd cheering the boys on. It was a great first game to be back, but we have a lot of work to do this season.”
Kingwood has nine starters back from last years team, including five starters.
Mustangs off to strong district start
Kingwood lost its first district game at home after losing a 4-1 decision against Pasadena Memorial on Jan. 29 at Mustangs Stadium.
The Mustangs were without four starters due to injures, but the boys are 3-1 in district play and are looking to learn from their loss.
“We didn’t finish our chances,” Aaron Pontiff said. “We had about six or seven chances and we just couldn’t finish with them. We made some mistakes that we have to finish. We ran with them all night, but we just couldn’t get anything going.”
Jennings said that the Mustangs haven’t played their best game yet.
“We’re up and down right now,” Jennings said. “They’re playing with a lot of energy right now, which is good. We had injures against Pasadena Memorial, and the guys fought their butts off and that’s all that you can ask for.”
Kingwood will take on Dobie at 8:30 p.m. Feb. 1 at Veterans Memorial Stadium looking to get back into the win column in district.
The Mustangs have their eyes on the postseason.
“That loss opened our eyes more,” Kovacik said. “We know what we have to work on. As a team we have a lot of work to do at practice and some after practice. We can play better and we just have to communicate more when we’re out on the field together.”