Within 20 minutes, the lead was cushioned. Within 40, it seemed insurmountable
As has been the case for much of their still-undefeated season, the Bay Rockets boys soccer team hasn’t wasted time in getting an advantage on their opponents. That trend continued last Wednesday in an 8-0 victory over visiting Elyria Catholic.
The Rockets (13-0, 7-0 Great Lakes Conference) went ahead 1-0 in the fifth minute, led 6-0 at halftime and tacked on two more goals in the second half. Seven different players scored, while four different players recorded at least one assist.
“We’ve played with immediate confidence right off the bat, just immediate pressure if (the opponents) have the ball,” Rockets senior Connor Clark said of the team’s season-long approach. “(We look to score) early if we have the ball, just immediate enthusiasm.”
The victory against the reeling Panthers (5-8, 1-7 GLC) was Bay’s seventh shutout in 13 games, and marked the ninth time it scored five or more goals. With depth and skill to spare despite their relative youth, the Rockets have matched talent with effort all season while garnering a No. 1 ranking in the state in Division II, per the latest Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association poll.
It would appear the Rockets are on a mission, with designs on a deep tournament run once the regular season concludes in a week.
“We’re on a mission to (get to) States. That’s always our mentality,” Rockets sophomore Connor Bozak said.
Bozak scored the first of his two goals off a rebound in the fifth minute, then juniors Matt DeCapua (17th) and Nolan Sooy (21st) followed suit. Junior Ashton Price (28th) and seniors Kyle Cusimano (31st) and Clark (34th) capped off the team’s seven first-half goals.
Clark’s score, off a penalty kick after Aidan Bozak was tripped inside the Panthers’ box, took on added significance. It was his first varsity goal and came on the team’s “Senior Night.” Price’s earlier goal was also his first.
“It felt amazing,” Clark said of his shot. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it at first, but as soon as it went in, it was just immediate happiness and pride.”
By halftime, the Rockets held an 18-2 shot advantage, including 11-1 on goal. By the end of the match, that disparity increased to 21-2 (13-1 on net). Connor Bozak’s second goal came in the 44th minute, and junior Brock Pickett made it 8-0 in the 46th minute.
DeCapua, Pickett, Danny Kruzer and Aidan Bozak each picked up an assist.
“We’ve had 15 different goal scorers this season,” Rockets coach Bobby Dougherty said. “We depend heavily on Kyle Cusimano and we depend heavily on Brock, Connor Bozak and Matty DeCapua. These guys are putting the ball away like crazy. And then we have a lot of guys with two and three (goals) all over the place. The best part about this is you can shut down one of us, but tonight everybody got a piece of the pie.”
For Elyria Catholic, it was an evening used to try things out and gain valuable experience against a top-flight program. A spate of injuries left the Panthers, who started the season 4-1, down four starters and seven key contributors overall.
“(Bay’s) foundation is so solid,” Panthers coach Jason Kempton said. “Everyone in Ohio and, now, the United States (where) they’d be a top 25 team in the country (knows that). My team is very young and we’ve had so many injuries over the last two weeks to key players. We just came out to work on things we needed to work on against the best in northern Ohio.”
Bay senior Tony Vangelos wasn’t tested often, finishing with one save. Christopher Krupka made five saves in net for the Panthers. Bay finishes its season with a pair of tough games, playing host to Buckeye tonight at 7 and then traveling to Chagrin Falls on Saturday at 3 p.m.
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