A tall, lanky defender with a wild and unrestrained head of hair, Evan Ahlstrom, the sophomore out of Dunkirk High School, stands out on the soccer pitch.
That's a good thing, too - for opponents, anyway -for his is one whose location must be accounted for at all times. Not only if they hope to venture successfully into Jamestown Community College's defensive territory, but also if they hope to keep the Jayhawks from successfully venturing into theirs.
And he proved it Saturday.
Jamestown Community College’s Ryan Houghtalen, right, heads the ball while being defended by Mohawk Valley’s Kenneth Miller. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J?photo by Rob Tucker
Performing quite the vanishing act, Ahlstrom scored a goal early in the second half to lift the Jayhawks to a season-opening victory over visiting the Mohawk Valley Community College Hawks, 2-0.
As teammate Nolan Farr won possession of the ball along the left sideline and began carrying it up the field, Ahlstrom gave a shout to teammate Cody Hughes to drop back and spell him in the middle for a while.
Hughes obliged, and in the next moment Ahlstrom sprinted up the middle of the field - unmolested, unseen, invisible - not to be heard from again until a few moments later when Farr, who did not make the mistake of forgetting about his teammate, delivered a long pass across field.
The ball found its intended target at the edge of the 18, just along the right side, and Ahlstrom did the rest, burying a shot past diving goalkeeper Chris Hanifin in the 52nd minute and putting the finishing touches on the NJCAA Region 3 Division III victory.
The tally was Ahlstrom's first as a Jayhawk.
"We allow (Ahlstrom) to make some runs because he's an offensive threat," JCC coach Pat Anderson said. "On this one, he just did an overlap with another defender and came up through. I don't think anybody saw him - nobody saw him, he was wide open on the other side and Nolan made a perfect pass.
"That's as good as it gets. The perfect play."
That wasn't the only spot where Jamestown was perfect on Saturday.
Starting goalkeeper Tyler Dykstra, a sophomore and Falconer Central School alumnus, made five saves to maintain the shutout - not bad considering he didn't play a minute last season - including one diving block off a header with less than 10 minutes to go that snatched from Mohawk Valley the last remaining fight it had.
"Tyler looked good," Anderson said. "He's still locked in a battle with Brenton Walker (JCC's other goalkeeper) but he earned himself some extra playing time today. That head ball to the far post looked like it was going in for sure, but he came out of nowhere and took it away."
It was one of the few chances the Jayhawks allowed, as they used, for the most part anyway, a crisp and quick passing attack to move up the field and control in Mohawk territory. All told, the Jayhawks allowed just five shots on goal.
"I was pretty pleased with our defense," Anderson said. "We kind of wore down towards the end, but overall we controlled the pace of the game. And I'd say about 70 percent of the time we got rid of the ball the way we should have. ... We're way ahead from where we normally are in that area."
Gage Bird, who scored nine goals in 11 games as a freshman last season, netted the opening goal about 30 minutes into the game. Mike Morris maneuvered his way past a pair of defenders into the Mohawk penalty area and then Bird knocked his teammate's cross - mid-bounce - into the back of the net.
Jamestown's next battle is at the Finger Lakes Classic on Saturday at 3 p.m., against Finger Lakes CC. Then its another contest with Mohawk Valley on Sunday.
For now, though, Anderson and company will just enjoy starting the season off on the right foot.
"It's nice to get that first win," he said. "It's a nice start for us, and I think it's going to be some fun soccer to watch (the rest of the way)."