WINFIELD - Win or lose, the Wright City soccer team felt a sense of victory just stepping out onto the field Tuesday.
Then the Wildcats earned an actual victory by shutting out host Winfield 3-0 during the first game of Wright City boys soccer season in nearly 20 years.
The opportunity to play was joyous — to win was euphoric.
“Just to be out here … we finally got soccer and it feels great,” said Martin Lopez-Mora, who scored two of the Wildcats’ goals. “We came out here with high expectations and have been working hard, and we showed that tonight by getting the win.”
While Lopez-Mora was creating havoc on the offensive end, goalkeeper Logan Kellner kept Winfield’s shots at bay to help the Wildcats to a shutout. Wright City had previously lost to the Warriors 1-0 during the jamboree.
“They brought a lot of good shots to the goal, and me working with my defense helped me save all of those shots,” said Kellner. “Being in goal it feels amazing. Being able to see the whole field, working with everybody and getting the chemistry together.”
Coach Kurt Laughman says the game is very new to many of these young players, but they all share an eagerness to learn.
“We’ve practiced hard from day one, and these guys have been open to learning new things,” said Laughman. “It’s just a great group of guys. If you teach them something, they listen and they’re sponges. That’s the difference for these guys.”
Lopez-Mora scored the go-ahead goal midway through the first half, lifting the initial wave of nerves and pressure off the waves.
“He got a nice break from the wing and was able to sneak just under the left side of the goalie,” said Laughman. “I think the confidence really came after that.”
It’s a moment the junior will not soon forget.
“I’ve been asking for a soccer team for so long, and to finally have it right here and now for the first game is an amazing feeling,” said Lopez-Mora.
Wright City extended its lead to 2-0 at the 7:00 mark of the second half on a goal by Esteban Jacinto-Jose.
The final goal came in the closing moments, as Lopez-Mora netted a penalty kick that preceded the Wildcats’ celebration of a moment that will never again be matched.
“He is a very talented player,” said Laughman. “He’ll have a chance to score every single game, so the sky is the limit for him. He’s really the lifeblood of this team.”
The Wildcats matched pace with a more experienced Winfield team, a result of having done their best to simulate the rigors of an actual game during practice.
“I think our guys came and were a little surprised how it is to play a real 40-minute half,” said Laughman. “With this being our first-ever game, we’ve got a long way to go. But they hustled and pushed through it.”
Wright City will hit the road again in their next game Sept. 12 at Barat.
“I really have high hopes for our team this year,” added Kellner.