Soccer boys win first game 7-0

It didn’t happen all of last year, and it hadn’t happened so far this year. Close, but never quite finished. All of that changed last Friday for the boys soccer team as they won their first game of the year over non-league opponent Lebanon with a huge exclamation point, 7-0.

“It feels incredible, a lot better than I thought it would,” said Ben Schmidt, one of the Huskies’ leading scorers. “It all came together. We played a complete game.”

All year, Sweet Home has had trouble converting on open scoring attempts. Earlier in the week, they had that same difficulty when they lost to Elmira, 4-1. Assistant coach Karl Schmidtman felt going into the Lebanon game that they had a chance if they could start the game strong.

Defensively they were ready, but the offense managed just a single breakaway goal by Heath Belknap despite once again having plenty of opportunities.

“At halftime, we had a talk about finishing the ball right,” said head coach Louie Dix. “The players were a little more patient in the second half and that made the difference.”

A big difference, as Ian Lynn passed to Ben Schmidt on a diagonal run to start the onslaught. The barrage included two more goals by Belknap, who had the hat trick for the second time this season. Schmidt drove home a penalty kick and contributed two assists while Lynn popped in his second goal in two games. For the game, Sweet Home outshot the Warriors 25-10.

“We played well from the striker position,” said Dix. “The midfielders moved the ball upfield and did a good job putting the ball at striker’s feet.”

The most interesting goal was scored by defensive player Sebastian Strickler, who raced up the left side the length of the field without being picked up because the defenders were engaged with the strikers in the middle and right side.

Strickler, Jonathan Wilson, and Chad Workman continued to defend the striker position well.

They have limited the opponent’s strikers to just four goals in seven games. First year goalie Kellen Petersen just keeps getting stronger with each game, according to Dix.

In the league contest against Elmira, the Huskies were frustrated by the unsportsmanlike play of the Falcons, who received two red cards during the game. Schmidtman called Elmira, who has five exchange students on their roster, a good team with a bad attitude.

“They had a couple of playmakers and had good passing,” stated Schmidtman. “They just kept moving the ball around and they were able to break through our defense a couple of times.”

Elmira struck quickly in the first half before the Huskies could finally settle into the rhythm of the game. The Falcons outshot Sweet Home 19-16 but about ten of those shots came in the first few minutes as they built the lead to 3-1 at halftime. The Huskies’ lone goal came on a perfectly timed crossing pass to Lynn.

Lynn, like all of his teammates, were distracted by the style of Elmira’s play.

“It seems like the other team has an advantage,” said Lynn. “It makes you want to play like them. It’s very frustrating.”

Rather than do that, they worked on controlling the tempo of the game.

“We played with a lot more heart and intensity in the second half,” said Schmidtman.

This week they go after their next goal: earning a league victory. To do that will be challenge as they go to Junction City, the two time defending state champion whose only loss this year is to the defending 4A state champion.

“We are going to have to play extremely tough for 80 minutes and not let down once,” said Schmidt. “If everyone does that, you never know what will happen.”

Thursday, they take on Cascade, who is 2-0 in league. To overcome those obstacles, Lynn knows they will have to communicate as a team, something he doesn’t think they did against Elmira.

“We didn’t talk too much overall,” Lynn stated. “There always has to be a voice on the field.”

With the win over Lebanon, they may have used a new voice to send a loud statement to the rest of the league that they now have a team worthy of respect.