LELAND – It might not have been exactly as Morris boys coach David Valdivia had asked for, but it was awfully close, as the Redskins opened their season with an 8-1 win over Lisle in the War on 34 Tournament on Wednesday.
“I told the kids before the game that I wanted to win, 7-0,” Valdivia smiled. “I will take 8-1, though.”
Senior Ricardo Del Toro, whom Valdivia has nicknamed “El Matador,” did his best to live up to the moniker, as he scored four goals, including the first two of the season. He added an assist on Nick Rodriguez’s goal in the first half as the Redskins built a 3-1 lead at intermission.
Del Toro continued his assault on the Lisle defense early in the second half, as he scored off an assist from Brad Haldorson just 30 seconds into the second half and added another one off an assist from Rodriguez three minutes later.
“I was very pleased with Ricardo Del Toro coming out and leading the team,” Valdivia said. “He did what he does best, scoring goals. It was nice to see him get a hat trick plus one in the first game of the year.”
Morris, which took on Rochelle, who earlier beat Lisle, 1-0, took a little longer to get going in the first half, as Del Toro misfired on his first three attempts before finally finding the back of the net with 24:30 to play in the first half. The game was played in 30-minute halves instead of the standard 40 due to the number of games scheduled on a Leland field with no lights.
Once the Redskins found their groove, they kept it going. Five minutes after Del Toro scored his first goal, he scored again, then got the assist on Rodriguez’s goal a minute later. Lisle finally got on the board with a penalty kick with 3:30 to play in the first half on one of the few opportunities they had in the Redskins’ zone.
“We did a good job of controlling the ball,” Valdivia said. “We came out pretty confident, and I thought we looked pretty sharp for a first game. We do still have some position battles going on, so it was nice to get a lot of kids in there to get some time and see what they could do.”
After Del Toro went to the bench after his fourth goal, Rodriguez took a ball up the right side and crossed a pass to the center of the field. Freshman Conner Shaw stepped into the middle of the group and headed it in for one of the prettier goals Morris will see all season. That made the score, 6-1 before Konner Wilhelm showed his former team what it was missing.
Wilhelm, a junior who spent his freshman year at Lisle, scored twice from long range late in the game to provide the final score.
“I was very proud of Konner,” Valdivia said. “He wanted a chance to play against his old team and he promised me he would score. Then, he went out and scored twice. That was nice to see.
“It was also good to see Luke Rodriguez play well. He can play either forward or right outside for us, and he did a good job at both today.”