The Jim Thorpe boys soccer team knew it was in for a tough game against Pine Grove last night and had a game plan set.
It isn't always that easy to carry out that plan, however, as the Olympians quickly discovered. The Cardinals reeled off three unanswered tallies in the first 10 minutes of the contest and were on their way to an easy 6-1 Schuylkill League win.
"We knew that this was one of the top teams that we would have to compete with in order to consider ourselves in the upper level of competition in the league," JT head coach Tony Dixon mentioned afterwards. "I thought that apart from the first 10 minutes of the game, we did that."
Dixon's opinion seemed correct, because for the remainder of the first half and the entire second, the Olympians hung tough, before dropping the decision.
About two and a half minutes into the game, Cole Schwalm scored unassisted to open the scoring brigade for Pine Grove.
Five minutes later, the offensive threats continued, before Kyler Burke recorded some insurance, tallying another unassisted score for a 2-0 lead with 8:10 gone in the first.
That's when the quickest score of the night occurred, as Marcus Brown found Brett Weber for the 3-0 lead, only 13 seconds after their last goal.
"In that first five or ten minutes, I thought we gave up some stupid goals," Dixon reiterated. "We always have a tough game against them and this year was no different, because they do have a lot of bigger, taller players and they also have many more seniors on the field, to only our two seniors."
Pine Grove head coach Mark Wyllie commended his players on their impressive beginning to the game.
"We had a tough game last night against Blue Mountain and with the weather affecting our schedule, the kids were eager to get out there and get an early jump on Jim Thorpe," he said. "We wanted to come out strong tonight, and I thought we did exactly that."
For the remainder of the first half, the two teams battled pretty evenly with the ball travelling equally back-and-forth, challenging both teams' goalies. However, the scoring ceased until early in the second session.
That's when the Olympians began a comeback. Jim Thorpe's Kyle Lawrence scored off a high, soaring ball from the right side of the net that found the back of the hammock over Pine Grove goalie Justin Renninger's head. That made it 3-1 with just over seven minutes off the second half clock.
However, the visitors returned to work five minutes later, as Donald Legarhd fed Burke for his second goal of the game for a 4-1 lead.
Fast-forwarding to near the end of the game, the most impressive score occurred, when Pine Grove's Brett Weber seemed to up his own personal desire, letting loose on a 'laser'-like shot from the right side of the field that skidded off JT goalie Justin Kaminski's left hand and found the net.
Four minutes after, Weber closed out his own personal hat trick, this time scoring off a nice maneuver, feeding it to himself, past a defender, and snuck it past Kaminski in the lower left side of the goal for the final tally of the night.
"They're usually one of the top two teams in the league and I think this team is going to be no different," JT's Dixon said of Pine Grove. "But, seeing how we did tonight, other than some lapses, I think we're going to be able to hold our own in the league and do alright."
JT (1-1), next travels to North Schuylkill tomorrow night and has their work cut out. "I think we're definitely going to have to tighten up on defense and then on offense, we need to make the most of our chances, when we get them," Dixon mentioned.
Meanwhile, PG improved to 2-2 overall, 1-1 in the league. The Cardinals outshot the Olympians 17-9 in the game, with goalie Justin Renninger stopping two shots.
Kaminski had six saves in the losing effort.