JM Buries Magnolia
NEW MARTINSVILLE — For the first five-and-a-half minutes of Wednesday afternoon’s boys’ soccer match with Magnolia, John Marshall had little to show for its efforts and could not catch a break.
After all, the Monarchs were in a 1-0 deficit 1:40 in while having four shots turned away on nice saves by Blue Eagles’ keeper Woodson London, and a fifth skim off the top bar.
However, once John Marshall figured London out and got things going it never slowed down in rolling to victory.
Justin Mencer and Curto Cooper each collected first half hat tricks, both finishing with four goals in the contest, and the Monarchs had five different players score in an 11-4 rout of Magnolia at Hydro Field.
Senior Matt Morgan put the Blue Eagles (0-2-1) on the board early as he took off on a long run down the field, splitting defenders on the way before blasting a shot into the right corner of the net for a quick 1-0 advantage.
And while it looked like things were going the Blue Eagles’ way with London doing an excellent job in net early, John Marshall managed to score six goals before the Eagles could dent the scoreboard for a second time.
The onslaught began with Mencer taking a long pass down field and sliding a shot past a diving London 9:38 into the contest to knot the count at 1-1. That goal came four minutes after Mencer had watched a shot deflect off the crossbar.
Less than four minutes later it was Mencer again, this time taking a long direct kick off the foot of Wesley Eskridge and banging it home from 20 yards out to give the visitors the lead for good at 2-1.
Midway through the first half Cooper joined the scoring parade, picking up a loose ball, falling on his way towards the net, but managing to regain control of the ball and dribbling it past London to up the margin to 3-1.
Just over a minute later Oliver Miller made it a 4-1 advantage on a long shot from some 30 yards out. That was followed by Cooper’s second goal of the half, a rebound of his own effort a minute following Miller’s goal that made it a four-goal deficit for Magnolia.
Cooper’s hat trick came with 16:22 showing in the half from 15-yards out before Morgan briefly slowed the bleeding with a pass to sophomore Isaac Snider, who trimmed the deficit to 6-2 for the Eagles with two minutes to go.
Unfortunately for the hosts Mencer wasn’t finished either, capping his hat-trick with less than a minute showing in the first half on a rebound of his own shot, just as Cooper had done earlier, for a 7-2 reading at the break.
John Marshall (2-0) had managed to score its seven goals on 17 shots while limiting Magnolia to just four tries.
“They have a good goalie, and he really made it difficult for us early on,” John Marshall coach Jesus Montes Marin said. “But once we got settled down a little bit we were able to start controlling things and taking advantage of our opportunities.
“Our defense is brand new, with three first time players and just one veteran midfielder that we have helping out, so we came out a little slow. But once we found spacing and started turning defense into offense it started clicking.
“And the main idea is to get everybody into the game and get playing time and have them learn. Once we got a comfortable lead we were able to do that. With nine freshmen that we want to get as much playing time as possible, that was a good thing for us.”
Not much changed in the second half, with John Marshall adding two goals in the first four minutes. Eskridge found Mencer deep in the box for his fourth tally 1:30 in before finding the net on his own at the four-minute mark to push the lead to 9-2.
Eskridge’s third assist of the game came 12 minutes into the second half on a pass to Hayden Thomas before Cooper made it 11-2 with another rebounded effort, and his fourth goal of the game midway through the second half.
Magnolia did manage to score the final two goals of the game late with Snider and Morgan each collecting their second of the night.
John Marshall managed to outshoot their hosts by a 23-10 margin with keeper Anthony Carmen turning away five shots before being lifted midway through the second half.
“I really don’t know what happened (Wednesday),” Magnolia coach Ryan Yost said. “We were not the same team we were in our last game against Union Local.
“We fell behind 3-0 and battled back for a 3-3 tie in a game that we played well, thrived, communicated and pressed the ball. I really didn’t see any of that (Wednesday) and we played very lackluster.”