GLEN DALE - Even with a sloppy first half, St. Clairsville overcame growing pains and scored five second-half goals en route to an 8-0 victory against John Marshall in boys' soccer action Monday night.
Zach Rigby got the Red Devils (3-0) on the board as he hit the first goal of the game.
"We are still trying to figure out our team," St. Clairsville coach Gary Watt said. "We graduated a lot of guys, and this is the first year that these guys are playing together. There were some growing pains. At times we got a little lazy and a little sloppy. Overall, I felt like we played a solid game, and defensively, I think we played a spectacular game."
Photo by Kyle Lutz/St. Clairsville’s Jimmy Lodi (16) and John Marshall’s Greg Shutter (3) vie for the ball during a game Monday in Glen Dale. St. Clairsville won 8-0.
The Red Devils defense did step up during the game as the Monarchs (0-2) did not have a single shot on goal.
"My team does not have that much experience," John Marshall coach Jesus Marin said. "Some of these kids are 15-16 years old and are playing soccer for the first time. It's a rebuilding year, and this is my second year with them. They improved from the first game of the season. There is not much more I can ask them. We just have to keep working hard and try to get better."
Midway through the first half, St. Clairsville got on the scoreboard again with a Merrik Malin goal. Senior standout Zach Oliver booted in the final goal of the half to put the score at 3-0, but that was just a foreshadowing of what was to come in the next half.
Oliver scored the first two goals of the second half to complete the hat trick and put the score at 5-0. On his third goal of the game, he was able to get behind the Monarchs defense with his speed and placed the ball in the net.
"He (Oliver) is our cog that turns our wheel," Watt said. "He does a great job. He sets other people up, and he just creates a lot of opportunities. He just attracts a lot of attention where defenses start paying attention to him, and by the end of the game that opens other guys up. He is going to be our leader."
Oliver finished the game with four goals and two assists. He showed his leadership on the field on many occasions as when he had an open shot to take, he would pass it to one of his teammates.
"That is a nice thing to see," Watt said. "He knows the value of getting everybody involved. If they know that he will be making passes to them, they will run harder, and that will make the defenses pay more attention to the guys around him, and that will create more opportunities for him. It just makes it feel like more of a team effort."
"Our team played great," Oliver said. "It was the best performance we've seen in a while."
As the score read 5-0, Oliver had another chance to put another goal in his statistics. He passed it to Daniel Gross, instead, and he put the ball through the net to widen the Red Devils lead.
Jordan Vincent also scored for St. Clairsville while Oliver capped the game with the final goal in a more impressive second half. Vincent had the assist.
"We were sloppy in the first half," Watt said. "That's the growing pains I was talking about. We were playing as individuals, not as a team. There wasn't any communication. In the second half they came out and were communicating. They were passing, they were being less selfish and played more team ball. They were getting everybody involved and because of that, their defense became a little more unorganized and we created opportunities for ourselves. It was a much different half. We played stronger."
"They (St. Clairsville) are a good team," Marin said. "But you can tell that they are young too. They are very well coached and one big difference between both teams is that they are able to control the ball, while we are still struggling with the passing and controlling. The team that controls the mid is the team that is going to win every time. I think that is the inexperience we have, and little by little, we will get there. We just have to be patient."