With the vuvuzelas blaring and a vocal crowd, each of them decked out in Southwestern red (one zealous fan, in fact, wore a red spandex bodysuit), that filled the bleachers, the Southwestern Trojans exorcised some of their soccer demons Thursday evening against crosstown rival Jamestown under the lights at Charles A. Lawson Field.
Behind crisp passing and speed up front, the Trojans issued counterattack after counterattack on the way to tallying three goals in the first half, including two in the final seven minutes of play, and one more in the second to score the 4-1, season-opening victory.
"These boys that are juniors and seniors, they played Jamestown two years ago and (the Red Raiders) beat us 7-1," Southwestern coach Mark Sleggs recalled. "Then we lost 5-2 at their place for their homecoming (that same year). So we were chasing a lot of demons from two years ago."
Above, Jamestown’s Alex Lee Yaw (in red) attempts a header while being defended by Southwestern’s Bryan Calimeri during a non-league soccer game at Charles A. Lawson Field on Thursday night. At top left, Jamestown’s Matt Walsh (8) and Southwestern’s Andy Bell battle for control of the ball. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photos by Rob Tucker
Tanner Hoose netted a pair of goals, Tristan Desnerck added one more and Ross Beresford drilled a penalty kick into the lower right corner for the winners.
This kind of victory was far from what Sleggs expected.
"In my mind, just because Jamestown plays in such a tough league, they're record to me is immaterial," Sleggs said. "They have the best soccer program in the county, at least in my mind, because of who they have to play and the competition they face."
On Thursday, at least, his Trojans not only met, but exceeded, that high level.
Twenty minutes into the first half Southwestern struck. After a battle in the Jamestown zone, Desnerck laced a shot from inside the 18-yard box that was immediately blocked by a Jamestown defender. The only problem, however, was that the ball came in contact with the defender's hand, and with him standing inside the goalie box Southwestern was awarded a penalty kick.
Beresford took care of the rest to give his squad a 1-0 advantage.
That first goal, Jamestown coach Andrew Pihlblad said, altered the way his team played the rest of the way.
"I think that we were really passing and using the team (at the beginning) but after (that goal) we started trying to take on a little too much on ourselves," he said. "It started to be more with the dribble and less with the pass. We forced it a little more and that led to some turnovers."
And it was following turnovers that Southwestern proved especially deadly.
With 6 minutes remaining in the opening half, Desnerck netted his first goal of the season to push the lead to 2-0. Less than three minutes later, Hoose scored when Beresford made a steal at midfield and delivered a long pass to a wide-open Desnerck, who had gotten behind the defense. All alone, Desnerck carried the ball down the field and then, just as Jamestown goaltender Liam Kulakowski came out to challenge the Southwestern forward, he sent a quick pass to Hoose, who drilled a shot inside the left post to push the lead to three.
"We needed to play the possession game, but we were giving it up and they were able to play their game with the counterattack," Pihlblad said. "And that team played the counterattack real well. They had a couple of really strong center midfielders and a couple of tough guys up front and as soon as we gave up the ball that was their game. They're real quick and they got behind our defense a couple of times."
Hoose would score the final goal midway through the second off a pass from Desnerck for the 4-0 lead and, for all intents and purposes, the victory.
Despite the wide margin of victory, Sleggs never quite felt like his team's lead was safe.
"I thought we played well enough to win," he said, "but it felt more like a one-goal game. They had some scoring opportunities that they just missed on and I think it could have been a lot closer."
One Red Raider who made the most of his opportunity was Eli Summerville, who curled a shot just inside the right post with seven minutes remaining to help his team avoid the shutout.
That would be the one blemish for Trojans' goalkeeper Eric Priester, a junior who was making his first-ever start in goal at the varsity level.
"For his first game in goal, he was huge for us," Sleggs said.
Southwestern will be looking to make it two victories in a row on Wednesday afternoon when it travels to Maple Grove. The Red Raiders, meanwhile, will be looking to bounce back on Tuesday when they play host to Orchard Park at 5 p.m.