ELYRIA — The wind chill was in the upper 30s at Knights of Columbus Field on Saturday night, but it didn’t take long for the Elyria Catholic offense to heat up.
Once it got hot, it didn’t cool off.
Jeff Ruiz scored just 45 seconds into the first half, the first of six goals the Panthers would net before halftime en route to an 8-2 victory over Lake Ridge Academy in a Division III boys soccer sectional final.
Ruiz, a junior forward, collected a crossing pass from fellow junior Liam O’Halloran and left-footed the ball past a sprawling King Emeka, the Lions goalie, for EC’s first goal.
Elyria Catholic’s offensive flurry continued with 27:14 remaining in the half when Gage Jarvis scored the first of his three goals. Jarvis had a long run up the left side of the field, carrying the ball into the Panthers’ attacking zone and beating Emeka to the right.
Elyria Catholic (13-3-1) scored four more quick goals before halftime and the rout was on. O’Halloran scored from Jarvis at 20:45, Jarvis from Michael Saddler at 18:33, Spencer Fetcko unassisted at 14:23 and Saddler from Jarvis at 3:47.
Jarvis had a pair of assists to go with his three goals, while O’Halloran had a goal and three assists.
“We possessed as a team really well tonight. Everything was working out,” Jarvis said. “The back and the midfield defense was able to get Liam and I the ball in good shape and we were able to finish.”
Carl Spaetzel, who kicked seven extra-points Friday night in EC’s 49-46 fooball win over Midview on the same field, opened the scoring in the second half when he banged home an O’Halloran cross to give Elyria Catholic a 7-0 lead.
Lake Ridge (3-15) finally got on the board with 26:02 left in the game when junior Henrique Bittencourt was able to beat a diving Marty Conroy in the EC net from 25 yards out.
Jarvis closed out his hat trick at the 16:19 mark. The Lions finished the scoring on a Josh Scoffield penalty kick.
“We’re young and we worked really hard this year,” Lake Ridge coach Davis Harris said. “We’re really proud of them. We played a really good team tonight. Elyria Catholic has played against some great schools and done really well against them. For us to put up a couple of goals against them is commendable.”
The Panthers move on to face Oberlin, a 3-2 double-overtime winner over Villa Angela-St. Joseph on Tuesday at a site and time to be determined. A trip to the district final will be on the line.
“You have to stay focused as a team and can’t break down,” Jarvis said. “We have to be consistent and keep our edge for the next game because it’s going to be a tougher test. This helped get us ready for the next game.
“We kept our focus and worked well together. That’s says a lot about how we prepared for this game. Everyone showed up ready to play.”
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Elyria Catholic 8, Lake Ridge Academy 2
GOALS: (EC) Jeff Ruiz, Gage Jarvis 3, Liam O’Halloran, Spencer Fetcko, Michael Saddler, Carl Spaetzel; (LRA) Henrique Bittencourt, Josh Scoffield
ASSISTS: (EC) O’Halloran 3, Jarvis 2, Saddler
SAVES: (EC) Marty Conroy 2, James Rickard 1 save; (LRA) King Emeka 12
Shots on goal: Elyria Catholic 20, Lake Ridge 4
Fouls: Elyria Catholic 9, Lake Ridge 3
HALFTIME: Elyria Catholic, 6-0