SOUTH AMHERST — Without a senior on the roster, Firelands coach Kennie Searight could not have scripted a better season opener for his young Falcons on Saturday against Sandusky.
Behind a pair of two-goal performances from sophomores Tristan Clark and Cole Lewis, the Falcons cruised to an 8-0 win over the visiting Blue Streaks. Junior Nate Yorks, sophomores Jordan Ruffner and Bryce Bartolotta and freshman Brandon Ramsey also scored for Firelands.
“It’s nice to get that first win of the season under our belt,” Searight said. “We have an extremely young team with 16 of our 20 guys being freshmen and sophomores, so to get that playing time for the kids and have the spread-out scoring, it was nice to see.”
Firelands dominated the ball throughout the game, firing off 34 shots on goal and not allowing Sandusky a single scoring opportunity. When the Falcons weren’t ripping off shots at Blue Streaks freshman goalie Jorge Deleon, who collected 13 saves in the game, they were busy playing keep away from their opponents.
The Falcons got on the board early when Lewis took a crossing pass from Ruffner and headed the ball past a diving Deleon. Soon after they added a penalty kick by Yorks, following a Sandusky handball call in the Streaks box.
Clark scored the first of his goals before intermission, and Ruffner added another to give Firelands a comfortable 5-0 lead at the half.
“That was a great way to get some of the younger guys in the game, get them playing and get the season started,” said Yorks. “But our starting lineup needs to pick it up a lot more. There will be tougher games than this as the season goes on. We did the things we needed to do, but at times we were too slow doing them.
“As we go on with the season, I hope we get quicker and much crisper. I hope by then we can look like a well-oiled machine.”
Yorks was referring to the Falcons’ 24 shots on goal in the first half, of which they connected on just five — a point Searight agrees with.
“We are real happy with the progress we’ve seen with the younger guys, but for where we want to ultimately get with the team we have a long way to go,” the coach said. “So today was like a chance to dust off the shelf and get back into it.
“We have a very tough game next weekend with Lake Ridge, so we have plenty to work on over the course of the next week. In order for us to have success in that game, we need to get a lot better. We’re building for conference play, which won’t be easy either, so we have to be hitting our stride by then.”
Searight sent subs in early and often in the second half, where Lewis, Ramsey and Bartolotta all found the back of the Sandusky net.
“That was a pretty good way to start the season,” Firelands junior James Keressi said. “There’s still plenty to improve on, but we’ll take it.”
Sandusky coach Ryan Fry chalked the match up to a good learning experience for his own young and inexperienced team.
“It was a tough game for us, obviously,” Fry said. “We have a lot of new faces and a young team that is still learning the game of soccer. I keep preaching to them that they have to work hard. There is only one way we can go from here, and that is up. We have to stay positive the whole year.”
Contact John McDermott at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Firelands8, Sandusky 0
SHOTS ON GOAL: Firelands 34, Sandusky 0.
GOALS: (F) Tristan Clark (2), Cole Lewis (2), Bryce Bartolotta, Jordan Ruffner, Nate Yorks, Brandon Ramsey.
ASSISTS: (F) Ruffner (2), Yorks (2), James Keressi, Dan Klesta.
SAVES: (F) Sam Miller 0, Ruffner 0. (S) Deleon 13.