Leagues apart | TheUnion.com

Leagues apart

In the course of just one week, Forest Lake Christian coach Thad Kopec has seen substantial growth in his young Falcons soccer squad.

But Kopec knew heading into Wednesday’s match at Nevada Union that the his players weren’t quite ready for prime time. And he was right. NU nailed down a 3-0 nonleague victory at Sierra College’s Rotary Field in a match that was played predominantly on the blue-and-gold’s end of the pitch.

“This is a highly skilled team,” Kopec said of the host Miners. “I know they could have probably taken it to us a little more, but I appreciate them not doing that.

“They play in the toughest league (Sierra Foothill League) in the section. Roseville,? Rocklin? And Granite Bay? C’mon, it’s not even fair. That’s a great league.”

And Kopec said the Miners just might make more of a case in the SFL this time around under new the leadership of new coach Ben Hajduk, a 2003 Nevada Union grad. He takes over the program for Mike Voss, his former coach, who retired after last season.

The Miners dominated Wednesday’s matchup from the kickoff, outshooting FLC 18 to 3 in shots on goal.

Nevada Union got two goals from Sam Whittingslow, the first coming off an assist from Christian Grapel that gave the Miners a 1-0 lead at the half. Whittingslow found net again in the second half, chesting the ball in the goal off a kick from teammate Nick Harris.

Marc Hopkinson, who was back in action after sustaining a concussion during the Woodland Tournament two weeks ago, added the final score of the day.

“I sort of tried to head it right out of (the keeper’s) hands, but I got there maybe too early,” Hopkinson said. “So I just toe-poked it. Then I heard everybody scream, so I thought it must have gone in.”

Hajduk liked what he saw in his Miners, who moved to 4-3-1 with the win, although he said the squad could still close things out better on the offensive end.

“(Forest Lake Christian) played us pretty strong,” Hajduk said. “I thought they gave us a lot more pressure than what we saw with Marysville (earlier in the week). It was nice to see that our team was still able to control what was going on.”

The Miners will be back on the pitch in another clash with a county team at 4 p.m. today, when Bear River hosts Nevada Union. The Falcons (3-5), meanwhile, prepare for the season’s first Central Valley Christian League match, which kicks off Tuesday when Sacramento Waldorf visits FLC.

To contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton, e-mail bhamilton@theunion.com or call 477-4240.

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