May 31, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Boys soccer: Freshmen provide lift in 5-0 Highland win

Karen Kase | The Gazette

GRANGER TWP. — The Highland boys soccer team went into attack mode and stayed there Tuesday night, but it took a little longer than coach Bob Sefcik would have liked despite a 5-0 victory over Cloverleaf.

The Hornets (4-4, 1-2) waited until about the 10-minute mark in the Suburban League game to start controlling the ball and tempo.

The Colts (0-8-2, 0-2-1), on the other hand, came out strong and had some good chances on goal in the opening minutes.

Cloverleaf’s Josh Wardle makes a sliding kick to knock the ball away from Highland’s Bryce Alexander in the first half. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY AARON JOSEFCZYK)

“I thought tonight Cloverleaf was unlucky to not score two, three, even four goals in the opening minutes because we were disorganized,” Sefcik said. “It’s been a problematic thing for us all season. That opening 10 minutes, I think we are too excited and not thinking about what we are doing.”

An early collision in the box forced Cloverleaf to make a goalkeeping change. Starter Zach Witmer went out after hitting his head and starting fullback Jon Cesare stepped in and was easily the busiest man of the night, stopping seven shots and coming off his line over and over as Highland kept the pressure on.

“We lost our keeper on a clean play,” Colts coach Kevin Graham said. “The players collided and he got knocked on the back of the head, so we had to shuffle things around. I thought Cesare did a nice job stepping in. He faced a lot of pressure and a lot of shots.”

A pair of freshmen got things going offensively for the Hornets, who outshot the Colts 22-6 overall and 14-4 on goal. Josh Woolard tallied the first goal 8½ minutes in with a left-footed blast that beat Cesare at the near post. Then, Blake Hatch found the back of the net after receiving a perfect pass from Logan Davis at point-blank range.

That duo was involved in each of Highland’s remaining goals as well. Hatch tallied two assists, while Davis scored the final two goals. The final goal was a nifty play, as Hatch slotted the ball to Davis, who found a way to spin around and poke the ball in with his right foot.

“It feels good,” Hatch said. “We struggled our last game and wanted a brand-new slate tonight. We were just trying to get the ‘W,’ play the whole game through and get the goals tonight.”

“When we combine with each other, it opens up gaps and opens up for the other person,” Davis added. “We have good chemistry, and we’ve picked up quickly on each other’s style of play. This win gives us some momentum going forward. We need to keep it going the whole season.”

Cesare made seven saves and was very active due to the Highland attack. A.J. Timken took the majority of shots on goal for Cloverleaf, which has now lost five or its last six games after battling Wadsworth to a tie.

“Timken is a very strong player for us. He has speed, he can use either foot and if he would’ve gotten even one goal in those opening minutes, I think it would’ve changed the complexion of the game,” Graham said. “We started out well and had quality shots, but just couldn’t find the back of the net.

“We are having trouble getting that first win, but our record isn’t a true indicator of our team. It doesn’t state who we are.”

Contact Karen Kase at

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