By Kyle LoJacono
The Steinbrenner boys soccer team shook off its first loss of the season with a 7-1 win at Wharton Jan. 9.
The Warriors (13-1-3) fell 2-1 to Fort Myers Bishop Verot in the Berkley Prep Invitational during the winter break. Steinbrenner senior midfielder Enrique Barboto said they wanted to re-establish themselves against the Wildcats (3-6-4).
“We usually peak early, but this win is a good sign,” Barboto said. “We need to be as strong as we can be for districts.”
The Warriors were also forced to play their senior night contest on the road because a malfunctioning sprinkler system opened a hole in their field, making it unplayable.
Steinbrenner shook off the venue change and scored in the first minute, buried home by senior defender Derek Gebhard. The Warriors followed with four more goals before halftime, the final two from junior forward Austin Labban.
Steinbrenner found the back of the net twice more after halftime. Barboto closed the scoring in the 57th minute for his second tally of the contest.
Five players posted goals for the Warriors, giving them confidence in their offense.
“We’ve got some very talented players up top with Austin Labban and Jason Collister, and Enrique Barboto had a couple goals tonight at midfield,” said Steinbrenner coach Chad Ebright. “We really have some good offensive players.”
Senior midfielder Logan Siben added to the offensive onslaught with four assists.
The lone blemish for the Warriors came in the 10th minute when senior forward Evans Blanc fired home a loose ball. Wharton senior goalkeeper Keenan Kushner had 11 saves in the contest.
It wasn’t a perfect game, but Siben was encouraged by what he saw as districts approach.
“I feel like we’re almost to our full potential and that we’re going to peak at districts and into regionals,” Siben said. “We’ll have our full squad back for districts, so we’ll be ready.”
Steinbrenner is tied with Sickles for the top seed in the Class 4A-District 8 tournament, which is at Gaither Jan. 23 to 26. The squads had not done the tie-breaking coin flip by press time.
The Warriors play at Tampa Bay Tech Jan. 18 at 8 p.m.
//Warriors’ goal maker
Steinbrenner senior Logan Siben racked up 17 goals last season, making him one of the area’s top scorers.
This year goals have followed Siben, but now they are coming off his team-leading 14 assists.
“I’ve always played outside my whole life in club, but coach wanted me up top last year for speed,” said Siben, who started playing at age 4. “Austin Labban got a lot better this year as a junior, so that let me go out wide and get those assists. I just find someone’s feet or head so they can finish.”
Siben has gladly taken to his role.
“He’s a goal maker,” said Steinbrenner coach Chad Ebright. “He doesn’t score them, but he sets them up for everyone else to score. He’s very happy with that role, and it’s very hard to find a kid who is happy not putting them in the net but setting them up.”
Siben has the team lead in assists despite missing several weeks with a badly pulled left hamstring suffered at Wiregrass Ranch Nov. 16.
“Hamstring feels good,” Siben said. “I played in the Disney Showcase during the Winter Break. I played four days on it there, and I feel like it got back in shape for me. I can finally get back to a full sprint out here.”
He showed just how healthy he is by racking up a single-game program record four assists at Wharton Jan. 9.
Senior midfielder Enrique Barboto said having Siben in the lineup has been a boost to the offense.
“Having him back, the flow is just a lot better,” Barboto said. “We’re able to finish a lot more with him.”
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