Box Hill United continued their winning habit with a morale-boosting 2-1 victory over Moreland City in the NPL2, and head coach Brian Vanega heaped high praise on the players’ fighting spirit.
Teenage debutant Vasilis Tsoumpris and midfield enforcer Caleb Ludlow scored for United at Clifton Park, and bar a late scare from Moreland’s solitary goal, the performance oozed confidence.
Reviewing the game, Vanega said: “I am super-proud of the players. They really stepped up. There was a key difference from last week’s performance to become more resilient. We challenged them to be more tough mentally and start taking leadership from each player. They have definitely done that.
“We ended up with the lead, but still had a lot of the game to play when Moreland came back at 2-1. We were able to be resilient, talk each other through it and get the three points, which many times this year we have not been able to. It proves this is a big step forward for this group of players.
He added: “The group is still very motivated. They want to keep doing well right to the end. Maybe we need to improve on our positioning so that we can keep the ball for longer periods of the game.”
Singling out Tsoumpris’ fantastic debut performance, whose father and grandfather have been former Box Hill players, Vanega said: “The family is very much entrenched in Box Hill. For him, he has worked hard all year to get himself to the point where he can contribute for us in the senior team.
“To score with his first touch, it’s not only fantastic for him but for the whole club, because he has come through the club since he was four-years-old.”
Box Hill United young gun Vasili Tsoumpris scripted a Cinderella story during his senior debut at Clifton Park on Saturday, scoring with his first touch in a 2-1 win over Moreland City.
The 17-year-old replaced frontman Dylan Tate on 57 minutes and turned on the style to meet a pinpoint delivery from the right with a well-timed volley, which nestled in the net at the near post.
Tsoumpris is a third-generation Box Hill player – his grandfather and father have also donned United colours. The latter is currently involved in coaching the under-14 girls at Wembley Park.
The youngster was visibly elated after the dream debut. Acknowledging his family’s association with the club, he said: “Box Hill has been in my life for a long time. I have been playing with them since I was four. I wanted to work up to something.
“I have been working hard the whole season to get my start, come off the bench and try to make an impact and show what I can do.
“It was even better to come on and score with the first touch. I was tempted to go for a header, but then I was like, ‘I might as well turn on my side and see if I can volley this first-time’. Then I hit it, and it went in.”
Praising the spirit in the current squad, Tsoumpris added: “We have had a rocky journey this season. Even though we have not been lucky with some of the results, we have got a very solid squad.
“The game against Murray [United] was a must-win. In the match against Dandenong City [next weekend], we cannot go in there light-handed. We have to work hard for three points and end the rest of the season on a high.”