A torrential downpour — paired with 27 mph winds — plagued the Grace King-Bonnabel showdown Thursday night.
“You could barely move out there. The rain and the wind sticks to your body and just slows you down on the field,” Grace King forward Adonis Arellana said.
“Also, you could barely breathe out there. And when you’re playing against the wind, the water gets in your eyes, so you’re constantly battling that. You could barely see. You could barely run around, let alone try to accurately pass the ball, connect with passes and line up shots.”
Despite the conditions, the Fighting Irish (16-4-2) prevailed, downing Division I, District 9 rival Bonnabel 3-0 at Joe Yenni Stadium.
“There’s no strategy, really,” said Grace King midfielder Jackson Morgan about playing in inclement weather.
“You take what you can get, play the way you can. If you’re beating them over the top, you’re beating them over the top. If you’re beating them on the ground, then you’re beating them on the ground.
“The weather just dictates your style. Luckily for us, we have big and small guys up front, so we could attack either way. That allows for lots of different combinations — through balls, one-two passes and crosses.”
Neither of those combinations propelled Grace King, though. The Fighting Irish scored through creativity.
The first score came via a corner kick from Arellana. The floating ball curled into the top-right post, stunning the Bruins, watching in disbelief.
“That was the plan. That was intentional,” Arellana said. “We actually practice that shot regularly, so when we got the opportunity, I just tried to square up and get a good hit on the ball and it happened to fall just like we wanted it to.”
Minutes later, forward Jose Hernandez dribbled past his defender on the right wing before chipping the goalkeeper to double their lead as heavy rain drenched the pitch.
The last goal was chance. Emerging from the scrum at midfield, Halco Hodjeric launched the ball forward. It bounced off the field and over the Bonnabel’s goalkeeper’s head into the back of the net, sealing a second leg victory for the Fighting Irish.
Two weeks ago, Grace King lost 1-0 to Bonnabel (12-1-1).
“Credit our guys out there,” Morgan said. “We stuck together and found ways to overcome the weather. It didn’t hurt that we played with the wind in the second half, which really sparked our game out there, allowing us to create more scoring chances and play the way we wanted to play.”