YORKSHIRE - From Coach Kevin Beaton's view, Maple Grove has yet to play its best game of the season.
''We're just plugging away,'' he said moments after the second-seeded Red Dragons blanked No. 11 Holland, 3-0, in Thursday's Section 6 Class C soccer semifinal at Pioneer Central School. ''I don't know how well we can play. I honestly think there are a group of players who can play better.''
If that's the case, Saturday's title game against No. 4 I-Prep - it defeated No. 1 Randolph, 3-1, in the other semifinal- should be a dandy.
Maple Grove’s Riley Beaton, right, and a Holland player try to control the ball in Thursday’s Section 6 Class C semifinal game. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Scott Kindberg
Senior forward Erik Olson scored two goals, junior forward Nick Swanson added one, and junior midfielder Riley Beaton and senior defenseman Andrew Lindstrom had two and one assist, respectively, in a game Maple Grove (17-1-1) dominated.
''The scorers scored, the midfielders dished the ball very well, the defense defended and the goalie saved the ball,'' Beaton said. ''It was just one end to the other. It was a great effort.''
A year after suffering a loss to Westfield in the quarterfinals, the Red Dragons were determined not to have a repeat of the upset. Keeping play almost entirely at the Dutchmen's end of the field, Maple Grove finally opened the scoring with 6:33 left in the first half on Olson's 18th goal of the season on an assist from Lindstrom.
Olson added his 19th goal with just under six minutes remaining in the second half to put the game out of reach, using his left foot to drill the ball past the Holland keeper. The score was set up when Riley Beaton hammered a shot on net, which was turned aside, only to have the opportunistic Olson in the right spot to convert.
''Erik has a nose for the ball,'' Kevin Beaton said. ''He makes good decisions around the net where the ball is going to be. He's the one who can get the ball on his foot.''
Olson's goals were sandwiched around Swanson's tally less than 10 minutes into the second half, assisted by Riley Beaton.
''Riley and Jesse Pardue really control the midfield well,'' Kevin Beaton said. ''They see the field and can usually get the ball to our forwards.''
That was a common theme for the Red Dragons, who didn't require junior keeper Kyle Richardson to be tested much at all in a game played in a steady rain.
That's likely to change on Saturday evening against I-Prep (8-4-1).
''They have a good program,'' Kevin Beaton said.
Maple Grove does, too.