The noise got louder after Hartselle’s 5-2 win over Danville in the second day of pool play in the Morgan County Tournament.
The Hartselle senior found the net for all five goals in the Tigers’ win over the Hawks. That gives him 42 goals in 14 games this season. The MaxPreps website lists Zanda as the leading scorer in the country.
Zanda has scored eight of Hartselle’s 10 goals in the tournament. More importantly, Tuesday’s win pretty much assures Hartselle (11-2-1) a spot in the tournament semifinals.
“This tournament is a really big deal,” Zanda said. “It means a lot to our team because I think the last time Hartselle won it was in like 2013.
“We hadn’t beat Decatur in seven years and we did that the other day. Now we want to win this tournament.”
Danville (9-1-2) entered the game undefeated behind its own scoring machine in junior Justin Hanline. He scored twice against Hartselle on two penalty kicks. He now has 19 goals in 12 games.
“This was a tough one to take,” Danville coach Brandy Sutton said. “We played hard. It just wasn’t our day.”
Danville grabbed the lead on Hanline’s first penalty kick just past 10 minutes in the first half. Ten minutes later, Zanda scored to tie it. Two minutes later he put Hartselle up for good.
Zanda got his hat trick early in the second half to make it 3-1. Danville cut it to 3-2 on Hanline’s second penalty kick. Zanda closed out the scoring with two more goals.
“Keegan is everything you would want in a leader for this team,” Hartselle coach Dan Bennich said. “It’s easy for the rest of the team to rally around him.”
Zanda dominates the scoring numbers for Hartselle, but it’s not that he is being ignored by opponents. At times Danville surrounded him with three or four players in purple shirts. His speed and quickness makes him difficult to control.
“At times I am a distraction for the defense and it opens up our teams for runs at the goal,” Zanda said. “It gives us a lot of opportunities for some easy goals.”
Zanda was born in Arizona and has lived most of his life in Hartselle. He played football through the seventh grade as a receiver/defensive back. In the eighth grade he decided that soccer was his sport. Like all soccer players, he was disappointed when COVID forced a shutdown last season.
“Being at home all that time allowed me to work on my game every day,” Zanda said. “It’s made a big difference.”
It’s paid off with the opportunity to play soccer at the University of Mobile. Zanda is Hartselle’s first college soccer signee.
— firstname.lastname@example.org or 256-340-2395. Twitter @DD_DavidElwell.