Veteran Henley boys soccer head coach Lupe Gonzales has encountered something he has not had to face since he has been coaching.
“I have never had a team that is this young,” he said. “At one point, we had all freshman and sophomores out there. Joey (Carpenter) was the only senior we had out there at one point.”
Gonzales and his young Hornets opened Skyline Conference play on the winning side when they beat rival Mazama Thursday, 2-0.
Gonzales only scheduled Class 5A teams for preseason this year, and Henley started with a 2-0 win against Crater, but fell to Eagle Point (0-3) and Ashland (1-3).
Thursday, Henley and Mazama were even by halftime before the first score of the game came from Henley freshman Brock Patzke, who was assisted by fellow freshman Lello Sguera three minutes into the second half.
“Well, I am a freshman and it was a really big moment to start out my high school career,” Patzke said. “I think Lello was who passed it to me and I volleyed it back in the net. It was pretty crazy. It was really big, especially for the first goal of the season and great for the whole team.
“Being a freshman in high school on a varsity team, it is a little intimidating. To come in and be treated like a family member is a really big thing to me.”
Carpenter and Derek Dodson are the only seniors playing for Gonzales this season, while 14 freshman and sophomores are on his roster.
Against the Vikings, Carpenter was the only upperclassman on the field, after Dodson and junior Micah Rasmussen were unable to play the second half because of injuries.
Carpenter notched a goal 10 minutes after the first Henley score.
Freshman Miles Morton sent a through ball to Carpenter, which he retrieved and changed his dribble to the left side of the field, shot the ball at the top of the box and into the left corner of the goal.
“It is huge to win the first game of the regular season. We will strive to bring out more intensity versus other teams and get more wins this season,” Carpenter said. “Our coach sees us top three in the Skyline for sure.
“We had that family aspect before we started getting our team together this season. Before playing any games, we were already close. For the young players, I tell them their mistakes, but in an encouraging way and keep them motivated.”
Ethan Drake was one of the more aggressive players for the Vikings.
Drake had a near goal with 10 minutes left when he found space in the middle of the field and shot the soccer ball just over the upper post.
Mazama will look to get its first win of the season against Klamath Union at 4:30 p.m. Monday at home.
Henley will host North Valley at 6:30 p.m. Monday.
“You can tell them how physical and fast the game is going to be playing against 17 and 18 year old players and you can tell them that all day, but you can’t really prepare them for it until they see it,” Gonzales said.
“It is a good thing because they are too young to know. I don’t think there is too many expectations, really, and they are going out there and playing hard. I think we can surprise some people.”