NEW BRITAIN – Five goals from Dawood Alsafari pushed Innovation boys soccer past Weaver in its 6-1 win Wednesday at the Innovation Soccer Field.
Alsafari had a hat trick by halftime, before potting two more in the second frame to send the Ravens to its third straight win to start the season.
“We're just getting started for the beginning of the season,” Innovation coach Bryan De La Cruz said. “I'm happy where our team is at right now.”
Alsafari opened the scoring with a penalty-kick conversion in the first half, before doubling the Ravens lead with a goal off the rush minutes later.
Weaver cut the deficit to 2-1 on a goal by Raheim Nelson from inside the box, but Alsafari didn't waste much time putting Innovation back up by two with his third goal coming on an impressive run through the middle of the field.
“They're having fun and I'm glad they're having fun,” De La Cruz said. “They're looking to do something different this year and take advantage of every game and get 'W's.”
Alsafari added two more in the second half before Yosef Alsafari slotted their sixth of the afternoon following a failed penalty-kick attempt.
Goalkeeper Arnez Falcon turned aside 10 Weaver shots while Richary Stennett led the game with 12 saves for the visitors.
The covid-19 pandemic robbed Innovation of earning any postseason accolades last season in which it lost just two of its eight games. With playoffs back on the table this year, the Ravens are primed for success given its high-powered offense.
“Dawood and Waseem are our seniors and they're really attacking this year a lot,” De La Cruz said. “Their cousin Yosef is also here this year and he's also adding to [the offense].”
Innovation first beat MLC 3-2 on Sept. 10, then sidestepped Classical Magnet 3-0 on Sept. 13.
“It's a good thing, it's a good problem to have,” De La Cruz said on the offensive output through three games.
Given the Raven's early success, De La Cruz said he wants to stress to his players the importance of keeping a positive mindset no matter who they're competing against.
“I want them to act like a team that knows how to win,” De La Cruz said. “That's kind of what the philosophy me and my assistant coach are trying to instill in these guys because they are that kind of caliber of team. They can compete with the other conferences at that level, so I just want them to act that way too.”
By the end of Wednesday's match, instances of pushing and shoving between the two squads ramped up, however Innovation didn't allow a frustrated Weaver team to impact its on-field success.
The Ravens will travel to Parish Hill on Friday for its biggest match of the season to date and much like themselves, Parish Hill has not had an issue scoring.
In three games, Parish Hill has produced 14 goals while only allowing three. It'll be the first meeting between the two teams since 2019. Innovation lost both games by scores of 6-1 and 5-1.
“We're excited about the upcoming season,” De La Cruz said. “We got Parish Hill on Friday so [Wednesday] was a little bit of practice to look forward to the next game.”