In its opening tournament game at Hiland High School on Wednesday, Oct. 18, the Hiland Hawks faced an improved Caldwell team that set a new school mark for wins this season at 6-8. While Caldwell improved, it wasn’t enough to stop the Hawks, who got three first-half goals and then exploded for six more in the second half for a 9-1 victory.
Brayden Gray got the Hawks going when he took a pass from Chris Miller and stroked it home into the lower-right corner for a 1-0 Hawks lead in the fifth minute.
In the 18th minute Declan Howell drove a pass through the middle of the box, and Kyle Mast quickly turned it into a 2-0 Hiland lead. The Hawks would then go silent until just 51 seconds remained in the half when the reserves got in on the scoring action. Pat Miller sent a ball to Tyler Schmucker, who drove home a goal to give the Hawks a 3-0 lead.
“That first half I thought we played pretty well, considering that they were packing it in defensively,” Hiland coach Scott Bodiker said. “They got some guys in the back with a little bit of speed, and they have a smart kid back there.”
Bodiker told the starting crew they would not have a long time to produce in the second half, and the Hawks starters made the most of their dozen minutes.
In the span of 11 minutes Hiland scored four times to put the game away. It started less than two minutes in when Cam Keim sent a screamer across the face of the net, and Chris Miller knocked it in. Those two teamed up again for an easy goal one minute later, and Keim scored on his own to make it 6-0. Gray then sent a ball rolling up to midfield, where Mast collected it and was off to the races, several steps ahead of two defenders. As the Caldwell keeper came charging out, Mast simply touched it around the diving keeper and rolled one into an empty net for a 7-0 lead. In the 51st minute Johnny Sisson sent a pass across the middle, where Howell pulled it in and drove it home for an 8-0 lead.
Nathan Olivares finally got Caldwell on the board with a goal from an assist off of Pedro Ivo, but one minute later in the 65th minute, Josh Schlabach made a move around the left end line to get free and hammered home the game’s final goal.
“This was a good opening tournament game for us,” Bodiker said. “We got to freely rotate a lot of players and got through with no injuries. I was pretty pleased with the way we played tonight. They have improved a lot, and they have a handful of kids who can play. If they can bring a few more along, that would be good because it is good for us to have more teams in the East who can play competitive games.”
Hiland advanced to 10-3-4 on the season and will move on to face West Muskingum in its next tournament game. The Muskies defeated Zanesville Rosecrans 1-0 to advance to face the Hawks.