Hiland Boys Soccer

Hawks early-half spurts lead to easy 5-1 win over West M

Taylor Mullet

Hiland wanted to establish dominance, get West Muskingum out of its defensive mind-set and force it out of its comfort zone when the two teams squared off in tournament action on Tuesday, Oct. 24 in Coshocton.

The Hawks did that by scoring twice early on, and two early second-half goals put the game out of reach as Hiland went on to post a 5-1 victory.

“That was the focus in all of the things we talked about coming in,” Bodiker said. “They are a defensive team. They haven’t given up a lot of goals this year, but they haven’t scored a lot either, so we needed to get that first goal, or they were going to be really willing to pack it in defensively.”

The first goal, which came less than five minutes into the contest when Cam Keim’s corner kick found the feet of Kyle Mast, who delivered a well-placed shot past a diving keeper, was a big one because it took West Muskingum out of its comfort zone. The second one really got them to change their mind-set, and it would be Mast again who would deliver. This time a Keim corner bounded around inside the box and eventually found its way to Mast, who was sitting just outside the 18. He one-touched it and drove a scorching shot into the upper-left 90 for the 2-0 lead.

“We usually struggle against these types of teams that sit back defensively and play long ball,” Mast said. “We knew we would control possession, so I wanted to do whatever I could to get us ahead early.”

“When that happened, they moved number eight, clearly their best player, from center back to center midfield, and I don’t think they generate much offense without him up there.”

At the same time it left the backfield vulnerable, and although Hiland threatened a ton over the final 30 minutes of the first half, the Hawks could not build on their lead. Meanwhile Hiland’s defense looked strong and never really allowed West M to get off one shot into the face of the goal throughout the first half.

That point differential didn’t last long as Hiland came out aggressively in the second half to put this one to bed. Mast ripped a winding right-footer that careened off the keeper, and sophomore Taylor Mullet was there to follow it up for the score to make it 3-0 seven minutes into the half. Three minutes later Mullet would pick up his second goal with an easy walk-in goal that he simply bumped into the net off a throw-in by Keim.

Mullet continues the stand-out play of the sophomore trio of Chris and Pat Miller and himself. Bodiker normally doesn’t play a lot of sophomores, but that trio of talented kids has made it impossible for Bodiker to keep them out of the line-up.

“This has been fun, especially since Pat and Chris are such close friends,” Mullet said. “We’ve been playing pretty good, especially for sophomores, so that has been good.”

Hiland kept attacking, and although Declan Howell had his goal called back on a tough call, Carson Feikert added to the lead when he knocked home a winner from an assist off the foot of Howell. It marked Feikert’s first career goal.

“I was pretty happy about that,” Feikert said, although you’d never realize his excitement after keeping his emotions in check following the score. “It was a nice pass from Chris (Miller) to Declan, and Declan megged a defender, and I put it in the back of the net. We were a little shaky at first, but we came out pretty good in the second half.”

West M’s Doug Gatti would drill in a score with seven minutes left to play, but the Hawks were never threatened after building the early lead.

Bodiker said the ball movement was not good in the first half, but he said his team did a much better job of finding feet and keeping the ball moving in the second half.

“Despite having the 2-0 lead at half-time, I was not comfortable, and I was not pleased with the way we played,” Bodiker said. “I really challenged the guys to start the second half with a band, and they did.”

He added that while he would have loved to get the shut-out, more importantly they were able to get the win and move on as they set up a return date with number-one-seed Tusky Valley for the district title showdown. The two teams fought to a 0-0 draw earlier in the season, and Bodiker said the Trojans boast a strong, seasoned group that should provide plenty of competition as the Hawks work to return to the regional level of play, a place they have been quite a number of times during Bodiker’s long tenure.

Mast said there was one other factor in playing hard and getting after it.

“Since it’s my senior year, the threat of being eliminated makes you go all out,” Mast said. “I want to make it as far as we can, and I’ll do what I’ve got to do to help the team.”

With the win Hiland improved to 11-3-4 on the season while a scrappy West M bows out at 4-12-3.

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