Camron O'Reilly and Austin Ignatz battle for possession.

Camron O'Reilly and Austin Ignatz battle for possession.

HENDERSONVILLE - The Hendersonville Commando soccer team opened the 2019 season strong on Tuesday night, defeating visiting Father Ryan 1-0 on a Cade Good goal 31 minutes into the match.

The 1-0 lead held for the remaining 49 minutes as Hendersonville downed the Irish in the season opener for both sides.

“I thought we had different guys step up at different times and a lot of different guys do different things for us and that is only going to help us down the road,” HHS coach Russ Plummer said. “Everyone is excited for the first game can we carry things on from here on out and that is what we talked about at the end.”

The Commandos are defending region champions, but they know nothing will be handed to them in 2019 as their hard work and dedication has impressed Plummer during the offseason and start of this season.

“We will still want to get tougher mentally and physically and that will come but the good thing is this team wants to do that,” Plummer said. “I think they have gone about their offseason with a business-like approach. They have created an atmosphere and culture that is hard working and knows they need to get better every day. They have done a good job of that.”

A district or region championship this year normally would prove a successful season for Hendersonville, but Plummer says it isn’t about the outside noise, but instead its about focusing on the day in and day out so the Commandos can play their best soccer in May. 

“It is just like every other year for our team,” he said. “We have to be as good as we can be. We have to play our best at the end of the year; it is about being as good as we can be. We don’t put any certain love on that or destination on that we just want to be as good as we can be at the end of the year.”

On the other end of the pitch, a slow start doomed the Irish, but a strong second half has coach Robin Dietrich excited for the rest of 2019. 

“I thought in the second half we did much better than the first half,” he said. “In the first half, I thought we got caught on our back foot. Second half, we won some balls in the middle-third of the field and that turned some things around for us. That was a good positive sign for us moving forward.” 

For Father Ryan, a match with Hendersonville is a strong way to start the season as it will prepare the Irish for similar teams down the road, especially in a tough Division II-AA league. 

“We always open up with Hendersonville both girls and boys and this is exactly why,” Dietrich continued. “This is a tough game out of the gate and you learn what your team and players are made of in game one. It’s a good test for our program and we enjoy playing this game every year.” 

Hendersonville will be back in action Friday vs. Clarksville, while Father Ryan will travel to Gatlinburg for the Smoky Mountain Cup, March 16-17 where the Irish will take on Mason out of Falls Church, VA and the Fairview Yellow Jackets.

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