EATON TWP. - People are starting to wonder just how good Elyria Catholic is.
The undefeated, Division III Panthers routed Division I Midview, 8-1, Wednesday night in a West Shore Conference opener for both. EC (3-0-0, 1-0-0) has defeated its opponents by a combined 21-3.
When the Panthers also defeated Wellington, 8-1, last week, eight different players scored. On Wednesday night, their goals came off the feet of six different players.
While it's too early to be thinking seriously about tournament time, some people are. And some of them are aware that no Lorain County high school soccer team - boys or girls - has ever won a regional championship and advanced to a Final Four.
Whether Elyria Catholic or anyone else will change that this season won't be known until late October. But some folks are starting to think the Panthers have as good a shot as anyone.
"I have the feeling they'll be going deep into the playoffs this year," Midview coach John Fitzgerald said. "I mean, we hung with them and when you play against a team like them it's kind of what you're hoping for, 'Let's hang with them as long as we can.' But once a team like this gets up 2 or 3 to nothing, they just feed off of it."
The Panthers took a 4-1 halftime lead, and as well as they played the first 40 minutes, they played a much stronger second half, especially defensively. While they allowed the Middies five shots each half, they surrendered no shots on goal the second half.
"We didn't possess the ball well the first half, so I let the boys know we have to possess the ball to control a team," EC coach Attila Csiszar said. "Movement off ball was a little stale and transition was weak the first half. It's what you do off the ball, not what you do when you have the ball.
"So I told the boys at halftime it's work ethic. They have to bring their work ethic and they did the second half. Our backs started to support our midfield. At the beginning of the match, we had a 20-yard gap between our defense and our midfielders, so we started pushing forward and that's when we gained success."
Meantime, in an indication of its assertiveness, EC forced 21 Midview goal kicks - the Panthers had to make just one - and earned nine corner kicks, while allowing the Middies only one. And they were whistled for 15 fouls to Midview's three.
Elyria Catholic got two goals each from senior Carl Spaetzel and junior Liam O'Halloran. Michael Saddler, Jeremy Kelling and Ryan Medves also had goals for the Panthers; the eighth was a Midview own goal in the 37th minute.
The match was tied 1-1 after Middies senior Thomas Wynne scored in the 17th minute with an assist by classmate Silvester Messiah.
"We just have a good team this year and we work on finishing in training," O'Halloran said. "Not just the forwards finishing, we wanted everyone to be able to finish if they got the opportunity to put the game away."
The makeup of this EC team makes for interesting scrimmages during practice sessions - a very strong and diverse offense averaging seven goals a game, going against a strong defense that's allowed three goals in 240 minutes of play.
"We have strong outside backs and we like to work up with them and we know they can carry the ball," EC defender Medves said. "We know that if we are on top of our game, we can defend any team out there. We have a strong core of defenders.
"It's really helpful that we have so much quality scoring. At practice, we can go against them, and if we can stop them, we believe we can stop any team out there. It's a really good matchup."
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or soccer@bobdaniels. info.
Elyria Catholic 8, Midview 1
(EC) Liam O'Halloran 2 (32nd, 48th minutes), Carl Spaetzel 2 (46th, 68th), Michael Saddler (11th), Jeremy Kelling (20th), Midview own goal (37th), Ryan Medves (58th). (M) Thomas Wynne (17th).
(EC) O'Halloran 2, Gage Jarvis. (M) Silvester Messiah.
(EC) Marty Conroy 2. (M) Nicholas Chambers 10, Kellen McGuire 0.
Elyria Catholic 31; Midview 10.
SHOTS ON GOAL:
Elyria Catholic 17; Midview 3.
Elyria Catholic 9; Midview 1.
Elyria Catholic 1; Midview 21.
Elyria Catholic 2.
Elyria Catholic 15; Midview 3.
(EC) Spencer Fetcko (37th minute).
Elyria Catholic, 4-1.