Ceballos and Wirth – Men’s soccer’s dynamic duo


Ivan Pomeroy

photo by Ivan Pomeroy / Staff Photographer

Auggie Spankowski, Staff Reporter

In order for a team to have success, it needs playmakers.

That is what the men’s soccer team has in junior Hozai Ceballos and senior defender Jack Wirth.

“If I had a team filled with the likes of them, we would be hard to beat,” head coach Tony Guinn said.

The Warhawks came from behind to defeat Loras College (Iowa) 4-3 Oct. 25 in Whitewater and reclaimed the Hawk Cup thanks to Ceballos’ and Wirth’s clutch playmaking.

Despite Loras scoring just 21 seconds into the match and again 17 minutes later, Whitewater managed to cut the lead in half in the 30th minute, when Kyle Clancy’s corner kick ricocheted off the head of Wirth to Ceballos, who managed to score off a header of his own.

The Warhawks were able to tie the match later in the 67th minute when a long cross from freshman defender Evan Donini found the foot of Wirth who capitalized with his eighth goal of the season.

Less than two minutes later Loras regained the lead, only for UW-W to come back and tie the game again just 24 seconds after that.

A long ball from near midfield from junior defender Garrett Morgando found Ceballos, who headed it in for the second time to record his team-leading ninth goal of the season.

The Warhawks improved to 10-5-1 on the season with their third win in a row, and ninth in their last eleven matches.

Like most games so far this season, the story and scoring line of this one seems to be speckled with two recurring names: Wirth and Ceballos.

Before they took the pitch last night to beat Loras, Wirth and Ceballos sported nearly identical stat lines, despite playing on opposite ends of the pitch, that still stand as two of the best on the team. For the team’s season category leaders going into the game, men’s soccer’s new dynamic duo was tied for the most points with 15, tied for most goals with seven, tied for second most shots with 24, and tied for second most shots on goal with 10.

“I’m just glad that we’re both scoring some goals,” Wirth said. “Before games, there are times when we’ll challenge each other, saying things like ‘I’ll get one if you do’ … These friendly kinds of competition are what we need in a team environment, so I’m glad [Hozai] is scoring goals and helping the team out as well.”

Even though Ceballos left the pitch against Loras leading the team with nine goals on the season, those in attendance would be quick to point out a free kick from Wirth that deflected off the outstretched goalkeeper’s fingertips, off the inside of the post, and back out, as he was denied his own ninth goal of the season by a matter of inches.

The duos’ success and chemistry  is a long time coming.

“Coming in as a freshman, [Hozai] was a pure athlete,” Wirth said. “He could outrun anyone, and would score a few goals. Now, he’s fine tuned his ball skills, grown stronger and faster, and has the confidence to play at his top level.”

Ceballos had scored just three goals through his freshman and sophomore years, but he has quadrupled that amount this year.

The junior forward noted that it is Wirth who helped shape him into the player he has become.

“Wirth is more than just a teammate of mine,” Ceballos said. “He’s the guy who brought me in as a freshman and made me feel genuinely welcome to be on the team. It just makes mine and his success feel a little bit sweeter to me.”

Similar to Ceballos, Wirth decided to score when it mattered most. The senior defender only had one career goal coming into this season before popping off for eight more with some regular season play left.

As he watched the duo compete and develop together, Guinn said he knew he had a pair of special players.

“Both have a great work ethic and that is a compliment to their parents,” Guinn said. “Hopefully this work ethic will allow them to continue improving as the season winds down.”

The Warhawks’ last regular season game takes place against UW-Platteville, and whether or not the team makes the NCAA tournament, Ceballos and Wirth will likely be counted on to keep making plays.

“I’m just happy he’s on my team,” Wirth said.