WESTFIELD TWP. — If there is an example of a hard-fought win, Buckeye’s boys soccer team got it Saturday afternoon.
After dominating the first half against county rival Cloverleaf, the Bucks watched several players sustain minor injuries and used their reserves to hold on for a 2-1 non-league victory at Gene Clark Stadium.
“It was a good win, but I would rather have them all healthy and take the loss,” Buckeye coach Matt Patera said. “We had a few injuries, so we were down to the bare minimum. We had no subs and they were just running on empty. They stood up and did what they had to do, played it out and ended up with a win.”
Name any facet of the game and the Bucks (4-5) dominated en route to a two-goal first half.
The second was another story. Buckeye, which has won four of its last five matches after an 0-4 start, watched player after player come off the pitch with various injuries and faced a heavy attack from Cloverleaf.
George Rusinko, Aaron Klubnik, Styles Haury, Andy Patera and Joey Robb all left the field at one point in the second half, making things difficult for a Bucks team that already starts three sophomores and two freshmen.
“We just lost a lot of players and it was tough to compensate for that,” junior forward Sheamus Dalton said. “But I think we did a pretty good job. Just play with heart and that’s how you’re going to win.”
A fast start gave Buckeye the breathing room it needed for the final 40 minutes.
With less than 11 minutes to go, the Bucks broke the game open on the big leg of senior Andy Patera. The veteran center midfielder blasted a shot from about 35 yards out that hit the post and ricocheted off Colts goalkeeper Mike Salamon and into the net.
“He’s got a cannon for a leg,” Matt Patera said. “He’s only got a couple of goals this year, but if they drop it back to him, he’s got the keeper squared and a nice shot.”
Nine minutes later, Dan Oswald sent a ball into the box and Dalton, among some heavy traffic, headed it over the top of a Cloverleaf defender and Salamon.
“Honestly, I didn’t even know what was happening,” Dalton said. “I was kind of like, ‘All right, there’s the goal, there’s the keeper, it’s in the air and I’m just going to head it.’ It just worked out, I guess, but it was a great ball by Dan Oswald.”
It’s unsure what was said at halftime by Colts second-year coach Wes Sechrist, but his team came out with a different attitude in the second half.
In the opening minutes, Cloverleaf (1-6-1) got shots by Adrian Medina and Chris Markeson before junior Joe Tomcho found the back of the net on a quick turnaround shot off of a cross from freshman AJ Timken.
The Colts outshot the Bucks 10-7 for the game, but it’s a performance their coach would like to see for 80 minutes, not 40.
“To be honest, I’m speech-less,” Sechrist said. “Of course they were going to do better in the second half, because they couldn’t have played any worse.
“I think at the end of the day they had to look themselves in the mirror and decide if they wanted to play today and they did that,” he continued. “Their efforts in the second half, I couldn’t be more happy about, but it’s the same old scenario with us this season. We need to come out with that effort in the first half. If we do, then it’s a different game.”
Contact Dan Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.