FREWSBURG - If one hadn't seen the final score and solely listened to each coach's post-game talk following the Division 3 soccer contest between the Frewsburg Bears and West Valley Wildcats on Tuesday afternoon, he would be hard-pressed to choose which team it was that came out on top.
On one side, West Valley (2-2, 2-2) coach Mark Fuller was emphasizing how important it was to avoid starting a road game flat and without energy; on the other, Frewsburg coach Mark Jackson, who took over for Jerome Lee Yaw this season, was stressing that his Bears' needed to work at, among other things, maintaining their intensity for a full 80 minutes.
For the record, the Bears (2-1, 1-1) handled their opponents, tallying three goals in the first half and five in the second on the way to an easy, 8-1 victory. But with expectations high following their performance just a season ago - the Bears lost only three games and reached the Section 6 Class C quarterfinals before falling to eventual state runnerup Holland - Jackson wants his team's play out on the pitch to be picture perfect.
Jacob Annis eyes the ball during Tuesday’s Division 3 soccer game against West Valley. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Rob Tucker
"It could have been better," Jackson said of his team's play. "We can't take (anything) for granted. We need to work the ball better and pass the ball better. There's always room for improvement."
While to a coach's discerning eye the Bears' play could use some refining, to the spectator they looked about as solid as can be.
Frewsburg racked up a whopping 24 shots on goal over the course of the game - they had another 12 that sailed wide or high over the net - to go along with eight corner-kick opportunities. And, led by Jacob Annis, who delivered a hat trick and added one assist, five different Bears scored at least one goal. Of those five, three also had at least one assist.
"We really controlled the game," Jackson said before adding of his leading scorer, "and (Jacob) played within himself. He had a solid game."
After totalling only two goals, and 22 shots, over the first two games of the season, that kind of offensive output will do much to help the team going forward.
"This was our third game and we hadn't had any good scrimmages (before the season)," Jackson said. "So this will definitely build confidence for us."
That confidence got a boost early and often.
Eleven minutes into the first half, Annis, from 30 yards out, sent a high-arching pass into the 18-yard box. As West Valley goaltender Dylan Westfall came out to snatch the bouncing ball, however, Frewsburg junior Dereck Smith leapt high into the air and headed the ball into the net.
Eight minutes later, Brett Johnson took the ball himself past a pair of defenders and laced a shot into the upper left corner and a little more than three minutes after that Jesse Ernewein, from 20 yards out, skipped a low, hard shot that Westfall couldn't hang on to for the third and final goal of the half.
For almost all of that first 40 minutes of play, Frewsburg had maintained ball possession in the West Valley side of the field.
Taking advantage of a Frewsburg miscommunication between goalie Justin Randall and his defense, West Valley's Michael Grigsby cut the deficit to two at the 27-minute mark of the second half.
"It's hard playing somebody when you're sitting in their half of the field the whole time because people start letting up a little bit," Jackson said. "Then they can attack and counter and if you're not ready for it (the score) can change quick."
It was the lone blemish for Frewsburg, however, and Annis answered three minutes later to push the advantage back to three.
Over the game's final 20 minutes, Annis scored twice more - at the 15-minute mark to make it 6-1 and then at the 1:30 mark from Smith - Patrick Jermaine netted a goal following a well-timed lead pass from Johnson and Tyrel Adelgren scored with a little more than 10 minutes remaining when he stole the ball from the West Valley defender inside the 18-yard box and beat the netminder.
Frewsburg will be looking to make it three wins in a row when it squares off against host Chautauqua Lake on Thursday at 4:30 p.m.