ELYRIA — After a promising preseason, the Elyria Catholic boys opened an equally promising regular season Monday night at Knights of Columbus Field.
Eight players scored goals as the Panthers routed Wellington 8-1 in a non-conference season opener for both teams. Wellington has the rest of the week off because of the Lorain County Fair. EC hosts Oberlin on Saturday.
The potent Panthers scored in diverse ways.
Michael Saddler gave them a 1-0 lead with a 20-yard free kick in the 12th minute. Gage Jarvis deked the Dukes defense out of position to score into an empty net in the 25th minute for a 3-0 lead. And Jeff Ruiz, taken down in the Wellington box, nailed a penalty kick in the 42nd minute for a 4-0 lead.
EC also got goals from Liam O’Halloran, Luke Janosik, Ryan Meves — with a left-footer — Spencer Fetcko and Matt Ruiz. The Panthers’ defense kept the ball away from senior goalkeeper Marty Conroy, who was forced to make just one save.
“We changed formations from last year,” O’Halloran said. “We’re running a 4-3-3 now, which is trying to boost our forward strength and get us more goals on the season. That was something we struggled with last year. As you can see, it’s working out now.”
And it has been. The Panthers went undefeated in preseason scrimmages and lost just once playing top opponents at the annual Adidas Showcase in Strongsville.
They did an impressive job of maintaining possession of the ball.
“Primarily what I’m trying to tell the boys is it’s a two-touch game,” said Attila Csiszar, EC’s second-year coach. “Keep the ball moving, keep the ball flowing and that will create opportunities and chances. That’s all we’re looking for is to possess the ball.
“The defense did a great job. It’s a matter of one touch and playing the ball out wide and playing to someone’s feet. What we worked on at the beginning of the season was mainly fitness to get these boys in shape because we do have a technical team. They can play. It’s just that at the beginning of the season, some of them are just getting back into it.”
How strong was the Panthers’ defense? Had school been in session, Conroy, the Panthers’ keeper, could have hunkered down in goal and finished his homework. But classes are a week away.
“Our goal was for the defense to step up and pressure them (Dukes) the whole way,” Conroy said. “The only goal we gave up was late and we kinda got lazy. But after that we straightened out. We had multiple guys playing multiple positions on defense and every single one did great. No complaints about the defense.”
Speaking of keepers, Wellington goalie Jake Miller was the team’s bright spot. The Panthers put 22 of their 32 shots on target, and Miller saved 14 of them, most more than merely routine. In the 56th minute, Miller went horizontal to make a great save on a shot by Marty Kramer.
“Our keeper had a great game,” said Bill Bogan, Wellington’s veteran coach. “He had a solid game and I thought our youngsters went out there and gave us what they got. You can’t fault them because they gave us everything they got. We had no intention of quitting this game and we didn’t.”
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Elyria Catholic 8, Wellington 1
GOALS: (W) Ian Lara, 67th minute; (EC) Michael Saddler, 12th minute; Liam O’Halloran, 19th; Gage Jarvis, 25th; Jeff Ruiz (pk), 42nd; Jerem Kelling, 50th; Ryan Medves, 68th; Ryan Fetcko, 72nd; Matt Ruiz, 72nd.
ASSISTS: (EC) Saddler, Spencer Fetcko, Medves.
SAVES: (W) Jake Miller 14; (EC) Marty Conroy 1.
SHOTS: Wellington 2; Elyria Catholic 32.
SHOTS ON GOAL: Wellington 2; Elyria Catholic 22.
CORNER KICKS: Elyria Catholic 6.
GOAL KICKS: Wellington 14; Elyria Catholic 1.
OFFSIDE: Elyria Catholic 3.
HANDBALLS: Wellington 1.
FOULS: Wellington 5; Elyria Catholic 12.
YELLOW CARDS: (W) Joe Provoznik, 23rd minute; Alex Coker. 42nd; Mike Dowdell 45th; (EC) Matt Ruiz (78th).
HALF: Elyria Catholic, 3-0.