It’s always nice to win a soccer game, but when you can totally deflate a quality team in the process of doing so, that means you must have played very well.
That was the case for the Hiland Hawks’ boys soccer team, who dismantled a talented crew from Steubenville Catholic Central on Tuesday, Oct. 23 at Dover Middle School, where the Hawks pounded out a 6-1 victory in a contest in which they scored early and never looked back.
“I thought we played very well, extremely well right from the start,” Hiland head coach Scott Bodiker said. “They had only given up 18 goals all season, but we put them under a lot of pressure right away. I’m not sure the score is indicative of the type of team they really are because they are a good team, but we made a pretty good team look not very good with the way we played.”
That pressure paid huge dividends immediately when Chris Miller got loose and sent a scorcher past Travis Shore and into the net. Five minutes later when Declan Howell followed suit, the Hawks were in business, up 2-0.
“That big start was really important for us,” Bodiker said. “Any time you can get on top of a good team like that, it puts all of the pressure on them.”
Not that the Hawks needed any extra incentive to play well, but the Crusaders provided it when they voted Hiland the top seed in the district, then jumped into their bracket.
“They voted us number one, then came to play us,” Bodiker said. “We mentioned that to our guys, and they responded to the challenge.”
Junior Taylor Mullet made sure the Crusaders didn’t host any thoughts of a comeback when he knocked home a pair of goals in the 31st and 324th minutes, the first one coming off of an assist from Howell, and the four-goal lead at the half was more than enough for Hiland’s staunch defense.
The scoring slowed for Hiland in the second half, partially because there was not imminent danger of them losing the big lead and because Shore made a few wild saves to keep his team’s dim hopes alive. However, midway through the second half, Howell broke loose again for a score to make it 5-0.
Ethan Moore took a pass from Kolbe Rice and knocked home SCC’s lone goal two minutes later, but Hiland responded in the 64th minute with Chris Miller’s second goal of the night, and Hiland maintained control of the game for the full 80 minutes.
“They are a solid group,” Bodiker said of the Crusaders. “They have some dangerous guys on the attack, and we felt keeping possession was the best way to contain their attack. I thought our depth may have worn them down somewhat as the game went along.”
Miller, Mullet and Howell all produced a pair of goals, and the three talented scorers continued to shine as they have all season. Bodiker said Miller could be a key factor as the Hawks march deeper into the tournament trail.
“Declan and Taylor have been so good and so consistent all season,” Bodiker said. “I told Chris that he is the X-factor. Chris’ play has ranged from average to all-state caliber this year. There are games in which he has been phenomenal, and that is the guy we need.”
Shore ended the night with 10 saves while Brant Klink gobbled up three of them for Hiland. The Hawks fired off 17 shots while SCC managed seven. With the win Hiland improved its record to 14-3-1, and the Crusaders ended their season at 12-4-1.