Hillsborough scores early, beats Freedom

 

Hillsborough struck early and often to beat Freedom 3-2 and clinch a number one seed in the district with the season winding down. Scoring twice in under eight minutes, Hillsborough jumped out to an early lead.

Senior captain Nikhil Saligame opened up the scoring with a difficult free kick goal just three minutes into the game. “We needed to make an impact early and take it to these guys,’” Saligame said. “When you attack aggressively off a corner early, sometimes they’re not expecting it. I was able to get my foot on it, and the finish was good.”

Junior Greyson Young added another goal only moments later. The play started with a long, cross-field pass from Saligame to junior Amine Benkirane, who was waiting in the far corner. Benkirane then cut in and made a pass to Young, who knocked the ball in for a score.

Young scored the third goal just before the second half water break to give Hillsborough the lead for good. Junior Manuel Duran sent the ball into the box with a free kick, and Young managed to push it through the defense for another goal. “I was pretty happy,” Young said. “I was pretty happy I scored two and the team made first in the district.”

Young’s second half goal put the Terriers up 3-2. After its quick start, Hillsborough slowed down offensively and gave up two first-half goals, including one that bounced in after hitting the crossbar. “In the future we have to play with more of an edge,” Saligame said. “We have to finish better so we don’t put ourselves in these tougher situations.”

Hillsborough survived a late onslaught from Freedom due in part to a diving save made by junior keeper Lior Gazar, who had taken over at halftime for sophomore Leoneris Hernandez.

“They battled back,” head coach Steve Colborne said. “It was a close game at half and they persevered and played with some heart the second half to squeak out the win.”

Both teams seemed to be slightly affected by the rain, which fell for all of the first half and parts of the second. “The rain, as always, makes the game more sloppy, but you’ve got to learn to play with the surroundings you’re given,” Saligame said. “It made the game a little bit sloppier and a little bit faster, but we adjusted.”

With just four games left in the season, this win gives the team a first place district ranking which it looks to carry into the playoffs. A loss would have given Mitchell first place. “Overall, we played hard,” Young said. “We put the ball in the back of the net and we kept it out of ours.”