AMHERST — The Amherst Comets performed like a well-trained army Wednesday evening.
First, they went in for the kill with precision force and deadly accuracy to score three goals in the first 15 minutes of the match. Then they spent the rest of night preserving their conquest, holding on to defeat Westlake 3-0 in the Southwestern Conference opener for both teams at Amherst Middle School.
Amherst (2-0-0) got on the board in the sixth minute as senior midfielder Josh Birkline was in the right position to play a ball that was misplayed by Demons goalkeeper Alec Ferrell. Birkline drove the ball into a wide-open net to put his team on top 1-0.
Senior Marcus Schmitz figured into the next two Comet goals. In the 12th minute he took a pass from Bradley Mieden on the near post and put it the left-hand corner for the second goal.
It only took three minutes for Amherst to score its final goal. This time it was a Schmitz assist to fellow senior Connor Klekota who made the score 3-0.
“We made three stupid mistakes tonight. Give Amherst credit they were the better team tonight but it is a long season we have 16 more games to play. We hope maybe we’ll get another chance to see them later in the year,” Westlake coach Mike Besu said.
Klekota, a 2nd team all-Ohio player as a junior, is on many experts’ short lists of the best high school players in Ohio in 2011 and he showed why on Wednesday. He dominated the midfield, frustrating the Demons with his foot skills distributing passes right onto the feet of forwards Schmitz and Mark Matos and midfielder Andrew Souders.
“We figured out in the first few minutes that we could attack up the sides of the field and that was exactly where we went with the ball,” Schmitz said.
Schmitz had three shots on goal before leaving the game with cramps early in the second half.
“I like the fact that we came out and scored early. Westlake is a good team, a well-coached team and they never gave up. Of course I would like to score four, five, six or even more goals,” Amherst coach Brett Thompson said. “Our defense played extremely well tonight. Maximo (Meggitt) was very active in the box as usual.”
Meggitt, one of 15 seniors on the Comets roster, turned back all eight Westlake shots. Although he is just 5-foot-7 Meggitt is one of the more exciting goalkeepers in the area as he often plays well away from the goal using his speed and quickness to overcome his lack of height.
“The further out I can get from the goal the bigger it makes me look to the oncoming attacker,” Meggitt said. “I try to make quick decisions and get out to play the ball whenever I can.”
As the Comets were able to empty their bench with a second half lead Meggitt and the Comets defense were able to maintain the shutout.
“It’s important to try and get the shutout but the main thing is just to win games. At the end of the season everyone will remember we beat Westlake not that it was a shutout. That was a quality team we beat tonight,” Meggitt said.
The ongoing field renovations at the Amherst High School Stadium has wreaked havoc with the Comets early season schedule. They will now travel to Avon on Saturday for a non-league match that was originally scheduled at home. Their next SWC match, on August 31 against Berea, will also be played at the Middle School.
But no matter what venue the Comets call home Thompson continues to make one thing clear.
“I preach fundamentals to this team. Sometimes when we get up they want to play fancy or they let their intensity slip a notch. I would like to see us get to the point where that does not happen,” he said.
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Amherst 3, Westlake 0
Amherst: Birkline (6th minute), Schmitz (12th minute), Klekota, C- (15th minute)
Westlake: Ferrell (10 shots, 7 saves), Lackner (3 shots, 3 saves); Amherst: Meggitt (8 shots, 8 saves)
Corner Kicks: Westlake 2, Amherst 3
Fouls: Westlake 7, Amherst 15
Cards: Klekota, C. (Yellow, 62nd minute)
Halftime: Amherst 3-0