By Doug Brenneman, The JOURNAL
On a cold and blustery day at Highland High School, the wind wasn?t nearly as strong as the Golden Hawks offense. Mid-Prairie ended the soccer match early by a 10-0 score behind Ashten VanWinkle?s three goals in both teams? first match of the season.
?The cold affects everybody,? Mid-Prairie head coach Pat Cady said. ?Once you get a goal in, it warms you up a little bit. The other team gets colder when they?re behind.?
The Golden Hawks warmed up a little over seven minutes in to the match.
Zeus Fugate centered the ball and Camden Marner blasted it into an open net as the Highland goal keeper had moved to his left to defend Fugate.
It was 1-0 with 32 minutes, 52 seconds left in the first half.
?I really like getting assists,? Fugate said. ?I?d rather get 10 assists than three goals in the game.?
The Golden Hawks made it 2-0 two minutes later when Ashten VanWinkle scored the first goal of his eventual hat trick with an assist from Nick Ives.
?We did well in the beginning,? Cady said. ?We possessed the ball well.?
VanWinkle stole the ball with 15:42 left in the first half, then scored with a shot that glanced off a diving goalie?s hands.
Jose Juarez chased down a through ball and found the net for a 4-0 lead with 12:09 remaining before halftime. It was still 4-0 at intermission.
?We have a lot of things to clean up,? Cady said. ?We went down and scored a couple goals early, but then we started forcing the issue. I thought we did that a little too much. We need to be more patient.?
Coaches can always find something that needs improving, even in a 10-0 win.
?The big thing that we saw as coaches was that we were being too direct and playing forward all the time,? Cady said. ?If you pick your head up and see you got two or three guys ahead of you, let?s pull the ball back. We have three great backs. We need to pass the ball around and pick our spots better.?
The early success of the offense led to some over-eagerness on the part of the forwards.
?We need to position ourselves better on the field and wait until the ball gets to the final third before we try to play some of the balls that we were playing,? Cady said. ?We need to settle down. I thought we did that in the second half.?
The Golden Hawks would often be too close together.
?We need to spread out a little bit and that will help us be more balanced and eventually get more goals,? Cady said. ?We need to go back to basics with our passing.?
Highland had trouble maintaining possession. When the Huskies weren?t connecting, the Golden Hawks had too many guys chasing.
?We did not stay in our zone coverage like we should be,? Cady said. ?We need to have one guy chasing and two guys supporting, but we had three guys chasing. We talked about that at halftime also.?
Just over four minutes into the second half, Fugate found a loose ball in the top of the box and kicked it in for a 5-0 advantage.
?My first goal kind of freaked me out because I used my right foot when I should?ve use my left one,? Fugate said. ?The guy was just so close to me that I just had to go with what I had.?
Highland?s best scoring opportunity came with 31 minutes left in the game when Jordan Sosa?s shot hit the side post. Teammate Cristian Arciga unleashed a shot in the 23rd minute that was stopped by goal keeper Jacob Bush. Beau Stutzman also spent time in goal for Mid-Prairie.
?I think we had a loss of concentration after we got the lead,? Fugate said. ?The determination to keep doing what we were supposed be doing was lacking and maybe that was because of the cold. Especially once we got ahead by a lot, the cold started affecting us, I think. I would have more focus if the game was closer. I?d rather play a close game because it?s more rewarding in the end. It?s a better thing to brag about when you get to school the next day.?
VanWinkle netted his third goal to complete his hat trick with 15:04 left on an assist from Fugate.
?At times I felt we were looking for the perfect shot,? Cady said. ?We need to just get a step on it and rip it.?
Byron Yoder did that when he scored the longest goal of the night, a 30-yarder, with 15:15 left.
It was 8-0 when Fugate planted his penalty shot with 13:43 left.
?My second goal freaked me out as well,? Fugate said. ?It went right to him but it got under him.?
Fugate finished with two goals and three assists. Van Winkle had two assists as did Ives.
Another successful penalty kick, this one by Jacob Tappan, made it 9-0 with 10:09 to go. The match ended with 9:37 on the clock with a second goal by Juarez.
?We know we have the talent to be successful,? Cady said. ?We just need to get the games under our belt. I like our team chemistry this year.?