Under threatening skies that appeared as if they could open up at any time, Hiland and St. Thomas Aquinas got the full game in before the rains came, but the Knights couldn’t avoid the offensive deluge that came early in falling to the Hawks 7-1 Thursday, September 8th in Berlin.
The first wave of scoring came courtesy of Jared Yoder, who had a hat trick by the 28-minute mark as the beneficiary of a pressing Hiland attack that dominated the ball throughout the first half.
“We got after them pretty hard right from the start,” said Hiland head coach Scott Bodiker. “and that’s pretty important when you have weather looming. You want to be ahead if it opens up.”
As it turned out, it was just the Hiland offense that opened up on the young Knights, which lost ten major contributors from last year’s team that beat Hiland 2-1 in Louisville.
“It’s basically a brand new team,” said Bodiker. “They’re pretty young and inexperienced.”
But it didn’t stop the Hawks from being extremely aggressive, taking a 4-0 lead on a Derek Miller strike before St. Thomas managed to pull back within three with a goal of their own. A Cameron Keim score gave Hiland a 5-1 lead and Kyle Mast smoked one from beyond the 18, and the rout was on with the Hawks leading 6-1 at the half.
The burst of production from the middle of the field was huge for the coach. “It’s important for us to have balance in our scoring,” said Bodiker. “We tend to lean pretty heavily on our forwards so getting those goals from the midfield tonight was pretty nice.”
The game leveled off a bit in the second half, as the large lead tempered the Hiland attack and allowed a blend of combinations of players on the field. The opportunity was pleasing to Bodiker, who played a limited number against highly-ranked Mansfield Christian this past Saturday.
“Tonight was a good night to get everybody some minutes,” he said. “Especially for our underclassmen. That’s important when you have 15 seniors, not only for this year but they’re going to be our main guys next year so we have to find minutes for them.”
One of those underclassmen is Mast, who got his second goal on a rebound when he cleaned up a ricochet off the post on a Jacob Riggle shot in the second half, closing out the scoring and bloating the Hiland lead to the 7-1 final. It was the second time in the first four games Mast has scored twice.
For the Hawks (2-1-1), it was a solid win, even with the obvious advantage on the field and the lopsided score.
“We got a little flat when we got the big lead,” said Bodiker. “Giving up a goal was a hair disappointing. We’ve got to keep getting better defensively. We’ve had four games and no shutouts yet. So that’s something we just need to clean up a little bit.”
Hiland will get a chance to do just that on Saturday, when they travel to Western Reserve Academy for a contest that will surely be a tough test.