Mark Sleggs looked out over the turf at Charles A. Lawson Field on Wednesday evening, folded his arms and began to speak.
"I thought the boys moved the ball really well," he said, "as good as they probably ever have since I've been here."
Now Sleggs, currently in his fifth season as the head coach of the Trojans soccer team, isn't one for hyperbole - the low-key coach is more apt to discuss areas in which his squad can improve - but he also isn't one to withhold credit when credit is due.
Southwestern’s Sam Quattrone heads the ball along the sideline during Wednesday’s West Division soccer win.
P-J?photo by Rob Tucker
And on Wednesday, credit was due.
With a pinpoint passing attack and ample communication - from goalkeeper Eric Priester all the way on up through the ranks to striker Tanner Hoose - the Trojans possessed, moved, and, most importantly, scored with ease against the visiting Dunkirk Marauders on the way to an 8-0 West Division triumph.
With the victory, the Trojans improved to a perfect 5-0-0 in league and sport a 5-0-2 record overall. The win also helped them retain sole possession of first place in the West Division - one game ahead of Maple Grove.
Dunkirk remains winless at 0-3-1.
Southwestern, No. 9 on the most recent Section 6 small schools poll, used first-rate passing to open the field and create space, which led to four goals in a five-minute span during the first half and helped build a commanding 6-0 advantage by the break.
All told, the squad took 29 shots, 19 of which were on goal.
Riley Rybicki opened the scoring with a tally in the 14th minute. Scores by Andy Bell, Tanner Hoose and Tristan Desnerck followed in quick succession.
Desnerck's goal was his team-leading ninth of the season.
"We knew it would be a good test and we knew playing Southwestern we'd be playing one of the better teams," Dunkirk coach Mike Green said. "They're one of the more crafty teams that we've played and they really do a good job of getting open and finding each other."
There was no better example of the Trojans' passing prowess than at the contest's 31st minute.
Winning possession of the ball at midfield, Riley Rybicki made two touches and then fed teammate Desnerck, who was streaking about 10 yards ahead down the right sideline. Desnerck, meanwhile, wasted no time once he gained possession of Rybicki's pass, quickly dishing upfield to Jackson Rybicki.
Jackson Rybicki then carried the ball to the end line, crossed it and there waiting to bury the shot past Dunkirk goalkeeper Tyler Kubasik was Nick Cooper.
Three passes. Sixty yards. Goal.
"We played great. We played Southwestern soccer," Tanner Hoose said. "We connected really well once we learned how they were (defending) us and took advantage of the whole field. We passed, we shot and we did everything that we know how to do."
Added teammate Alex Bower, "Communication (was key). Talking to people, telling people to spread out. We do that in practice a lot."
Cooper's tally - the first of the season for the sophomore - made it 5-0.
A freshman, Mason Hoose, would net the first of his two goals five minutes later to complete the first-half scoring while a third youngster, Nathan Priester, would also get in on the action late in the second half with his first career varsity goal.
"Our seniors are leading us really well," Sleggs said, "but our young guys have filled in and have actually raised our game. Sebastian Diaz, Nick Cooper - all those young guys - they're really helping us out a lot and I think it's really been a blessing to have them."
Eric Priester and his backup (for the final 14 minutes of play), Lucas Prygodzki, made three saves for the shutout - Southwestern's third this season.