Last fall, Tucker Stevenson was about 7,000 miles away from the Hun School boys’ soccer team as he did a semester in India.
While Stevenson enjoyed that journey, he is happy to have rejoined the Raiders.
“I went to India for four months,” said junior Stevenson. “I played soccer over there but I missed the guys so coming back has been awesome.”
Upon returning to the squad, Stevenson has found a home at forward, moving up the field from the defender position he played as a freshman.
Over the last week, Stevenson has been displaying his finishing touch, scoring his first goal of the season in a 4-2 loss to Germantown Academy on September 21, adding another tally in a 3-2 loss to Pennington on September 24, and then scoring the game-winning goal in a 2-1 victory at Bridgewater-Raritan last Friday.
In reflecting on the tally in the Pennington game, Stevenson noted that he utilized strength and positioning to find the back of the net.
“That was a great feed from Connor Hufer,” said Stevenson. “It got deflected actually. I was able to hold off the defender, turn and hit one in. That’s what I bring to the table.”
Stevenson’s goal knotted the Pennington game at 2-2 and even though Hun went on to lose the contest 3-2, he saw the performance as a step forward for the Raiders.
“That was one of the better 80-minute games we have played,” said Stevenson.
“We have put it together for 60 or 65 minutes but that was a pretty complete game we played. It hurts because we beat ourselves really. I don’t think we were outplayed at all, kudos to them for finishing their opportunities.”
In Stevenson’s view, Hun deserves kudos for its battling spirit. “We are kind of a scrappy team; we are not the most skilled,” said Stevenson, who contributed an assist on Monday as Hun edged Nottingham 3-2 to improve to 3-4.
“We are down to fight; we are not just going to roll over. This team doesn’t really have losses. Yes we lose but we learn from it all. It hurts to have another number in the loss column; I think we learned a lot from this and we’ll grow from it.”
Hun head coach Pat Quirk saw his team’s performance in the Pennington game as an example of its growth.
“I thought we played extremely well,” said Quirk, who also got a goal from senior midfielder Andres Gonzalez in the game.
“It was a well-played game of soccer. We did what we have been preaching to them which was to get creative around the goal and not just trying to settle on long balls. We were trying to get some combinations going inside the goal and we were just unlucky. That is the way it has been going all season. We make a few mistakes and every team seems to capitalize on all of our mistakes. We haven’t been able to capitalize too much.”
Quirk likes the way Stevenson is starting to capitalize on his opportunities.
“I think Tucker is getting in a rhythm, their kid in the back, [Austin] Sumners, is probably the best defender we will see all season,” said Quirk. “He gave Tucker a little run for his money. But Tucker has a way of getting dangerous; he uses his body well. He is able to get his hips around the ball. Everything he shoots stays on net.”
Seeing Gonzalez find the back of the net was another positive for Quirk.
“That was the first time we actually had him out wide, he has been playing in the middle and the back, he has played a little at center mid,” said Quirk. “He did well; he got dangerous and put it away.”
Others who did well for Hun against Pennington include senior midfielders Felix Dalstein and Bailey Hammer together with sophomore defender Alex Semler and defender Max Vounatsos.
“This is a team that is never going to give up and that stems from the seniors in the middle, Felix and Bailey,” said Quirk.
“They play a full 80 minutes and never stop working. Our center backs Semler and Maxime have been playing really good soccer; two guys that haven’t been playing very often in the back.”
In Quirk’s view, his team is headed in the right direction. “After our first game, it looked a lot like this,” said Quirk, whose team plays at Princeton Day School on October 2 and at the George School on October 5 before hosting Trenton Catholic on October 7.
“We scored a few more and then we had a little bit of a lull. I think we are back on track. We just need to capitalize on the balls in the box. We have a lot of balls bouncing inside the 18 that we have trouble putting away there.”
Stevenson, for his part, thinks the bounces are going to start going Hun’s way.
“It was tough before, coming back there were some new pieces and we are trying to put it all together,” said Stevenson.
“Now that we have had a couple of games under our belt, I feel like we are getting in a groove.”