Delaware Hayes junior Marissa Lovett scored a little over 16 minutes in and the Pacers erupted for four more goals in the second half to pull away for 5-0 season-opening win over visiting Buckeye Valley Friday night.
“Any time you get that first goal – that definitely helps,” Hayes coach Bradd Smiley said. “You don’t want to go down 1-0 to a team that’s being more aggressive than you because it’s hard to fight out of it.”
What Buckeye Valley lacked in experience, it made up for with effort. That effort kept the Barons within striking distance for the first 52 minutes and change.
To that point, the Barons, who earned a 1-1 tie in last year’s meeting at BV, seemed poised to find the equalizer.
“They’re a good team,” Smiley said. “They come to play. They give 110 percent – sometimes more. We really struggled with their intensity. (Goalkeeper) Abby (Weller) kept us in the game. We really rely on our defense to keep us in the game.”
But Alyssa Griner scored three times in the final 28 minutes to blow it open for the Pacers.
“We settled down a little bit,” Smiley said. “We kept them on their heels. They just didn’t have an answer when we kept pressuring them. We tried to take advantage of what they were giving us … it just took us a little while to do that.”
McKenzie Hayes fed through the middle to Griner, who beat the goalkeeper high to give Hayes a 2-0 lead with 27:38 left.
“It was a pretty intense halftime conversation with the coaches and the players,” Smiley said. “We didn’t feel that we played our best in any way, shape or form. I thought (BV) handled us pretty well in the first half.”
She scored again a little more than three minutes later after Liza Ida kept the ball in the offensive zone and added her final tally with 10 seconds left.
Sydney McMillin rounded out the scoring for the Pacers (1-0).
K.J. Hudson made a diving stop on the right goal post late in the second half on a ball that pinballed in front, keeping the shutout for Hayes.
Ella Kiener had a save for the Barons (0-1), playing most of the way. Felicity Lisenbee stopped one shot in relief and defender Sophie Ross had a save as well.
“If we play as hard as we did against Hayes throughout the season – we’re going to do fine,” BV coach Lucy Schmitt said. “We’re out-matched in this game most of the time. But they really held their own (tonight).”
Next up, BV plays its first ever Mid-State League game at Baltimore Liberty Union Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.
Hayes takes to the road for the first time at Bishop Watterson in non-league play Tuesday night at 7:15 p.m.
The Delaware Hayes boys soccer team found the crossbar more than it found the back of the net.
Fortunately for the Pacers, they found the back of the net more times than their opponent Buckeye Valley Friday night at Cornell Stadium.
Freshman Peyton Fowler started his high school career off with a bang, scoring a first-half goal that stood up for the Pacers in a 1-0 season-opening win over BV.
“This is the crosstown rival,” Hayes coach Robb Morgan said. “I just told them that we won this game on our hearts and not on our heads. It was not the prettiest game – but it was great attitude and great effort.”
Fowler’s tally came off a cross by Briggy Kannally with 12:10 remaining in the opening half.
“(Fowler) had a great finish and almost had two,” Morgan said. “Briggy Kannally is one of those kids where teams are going to focus on him. I assume he’s going to get his numbers in goals, but I’d like to see him increase his numbers on assists. I think he had the assist on that goal – so, he’s off to a great start.”
Kannally, who had a team-high 21 goals last season, had an apparent goal waived off on an offside call in the 13th minute seconds after teammate Jacob Koch sent a shot off the crossbar.
Kannally found the crossbar on a shot in the opening minutes of the second half.
BV wasn’t without its own close call early. Charlie Dailey sent a shot just over the crossbar after breaking away from the defense in the 21st minute.
“We were trying to play the ball to Charlie early just to establish that he was up there and maybe we could spread them out a little bit,” BV coach Eric Staley said.
Jack Scheeler had five saves in net for the Barons (0-1) and Sam DeLong saved BV’s only shot on goal for the Pacers (1-0).
“I can’t question anybody’s heart,” Staley said. “If we can play with this kind of pace and intensity all year – I think we’re going to do some good things.”
Next up, BV opens its home slate Monday at 6 p.m. in non-league action against Beechcroft.
Hayes welcomes Milford Center Fairbanks for a matchup in non-league play Tuesday night at 7:15 p.m.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at email@example.com.