The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

October 2, 2013

Geneva gets its kicks

Experienced Eagles boot their way to a shutout PAC win at young Madison

For the Star Beacon

MADISON TOWNSHIP — Having a youthful squad isn’t always a bad thing, but inexperience can be a problem.

Such was the case when the Madison Blue Streaks hosted the Geneva Eagles boys soccer team in a Premier Athletic Conference clash Tuesday.

Missing its only senior starter because of a minor injury, Madison battled, but the Eagles made most of the big plays they needed in taking a 4-0 PAC triumph.

“I wasn’t extremely happy with our possessions in the first half,” Geneva coach Jeff Hall said. “We weren’t playing our best game in that we didn’t set things up like we usually do. We did a better job in the second half, but much of what happened was set up by Madison’s hustle, too.”

Starting juniors and seniors against the Blue Streak freshmen and sophomore lineup, Geneva (6-6-1, 4-2 in PAC) applied constant pressure to the goal in the first half. Madison played some solid defense to thwart many scoring opportunities, but Bill Simoes finally broke the ice for Geneva nine minutes into the game with a header off a nice corner kick from Tyler Hunt.

“Our passing got better in the second half,” Hall said. “Madison pressured the ball more in their offensive zones, so we focused on getting possession of the ball and getting it going the other way. Normally, we like to have Josh Swanson distributing the ball to our forwards for scoring chances. We have good balance in scoring, and that’s a good thing to have rather than expecting one or two kids to score goals. Two of our goals came on headers, which is good.”

Tyler Drought scored in the 30th minute of the first half, and in the second half, Chad Weisbarth and Mike Ankrom tallied, with Weisbarth the recipient of the second great pass from Hunt for the score.

Stellar defense from the Blue Streaks kept the game close, but Madison (5-8, 1-6 in PAC) applied more pressure in the second half trying to score. With senior John Dahlhausen out with an injury, though, sustaining scoring chances proved to be too much for coach Sue Blabolil’s team.

Still, Blabolil was happy with the effort of her team.

“Geneva’s a very good team,” she said. “They very well could have blown us out, but the kids played very well all night, they played hard, and they absolutely never gave in an inch. Geneva is just an impressive group of kids, but so are our kids, too. We’ll have just one senior, and again the year after, so our future is looking pretty good.”

With most of the first half played in the Eagle’s attacking third, but Blue Streak goalkeeper Jack Reger, made several good save, he had 15 total on the night.

His counterpart, Logan Kopczak, had six saves, most of which were routine.

The closest Madison came to scoring was with about 10 minutes left in the game when David Albert got a pass down the right side and fired a bullet toward the net, but it sailed high over the crossbar and the Eagle defense put the clamps back on in the midfield the rest of the way, allowing Geneva to secure its fifth-consecutive victory and shutout.

“We did a better job in the second half playing our low ball game,” Hall said. “We want to get the ball out in front to open spaces and then cross it into the middle for Josh Swanson to set up shots. We’ve done a good job spreading our scoring around. Simoes had about eight goals, Swanson has seven or eight, Luke Murray has six, and now, with Chad Weisbarth finally settling in after dealing with a broken arm early in the season, we have several kids to go to for scoring. With Chad getting into a rhythm, we will be stronger heading into the postseason.”

Kelly is a freelance writer from Jefferson.