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The Mendota boys soccer team did some soul-searching after practice on Wednesday, prompted by Tuesday’s loss to Ottawa — a game the Trojans led 3-1 early in the first half.
The result was a renewed effort against host La Salle-Peru Thursday night that resulted in a 7-0 win for the Trojans at Howard Fellows Stadium.
“I saw a world of difference compared to our first six games. I saw a group of boys that played as a team for the first time,” MHS coach Chawn Huffaker.
“We had a big sit down heart-to-heart, airing feelings, playing the blame game, talk (Wednesday) night after practice. I just had a feeling that maybe tonight would be a little bit different. There was a lot of emotion at practice.”
Omar Bugarim put the Trojans on the board with a goal set up by a cross from Irving Avila in the 16th minute.
Mendota followed up with another pair of goals in the first half. The first came on a short punch-in at the left post of the L-P net from Javier Rosales set up by an assist from Tyler Doughty in the 35th minute. MHS went up 3-0 three minutes before intermission with a score from Luis Valdez on a penalty kick.
Valdez helped keep the Trojans rolling in the second half. First he set up an assist with a shot that caromed off the right post before being tapped in by teammate Bryce Otterbach. Then, Valdez connected on his second score of the night with a goal from the left side, assisted by Tony Escatel, to make things academic with a 5-0 MHS lead in the 68th minute.
The Trojans (2-4-1) added two more scores in the waning moments of the contest. Brock Sutton connected on an unassisted strike in the 78th minute and Saul Hernandes scored on an assist from Angel Diaz.
Keeper Jesus Delao and the MHS defense kept the shutout intact for the 7-0 margin of victory.
“We started playing our style of soccer tonight, for an entire game. We went to Ottawa Tuesday night and played our style of soccer for a half and got up 3-1 and stopped. The fact that we scored a goal in the last minutes of the game tonight shows me we did not give up on our style of soccer tonight. All seven goals were exactly how we wanted them.”
La Salle-Peru coach Brian Robson said his squad is trying to recapture the magic of its lone win so far this season, a 7-0 dismantling of Sandwich at Earlville’s War on 34 Tournament
“We’ve not played like that since. I think it’s just that they got such a big win. I don’t know if it got to their head, but they’ve not played that way since,” Robson said. “We’ve got to get back on that path.”
One bright spot for the Cavs was the early second-half goal play of keeper Brandon Bryan, who took over in net after intermission. Bryan, who took over for first-half keeper Garrett Weikel turned back multiple tough scoring opportunities from the Trojans over the opening 20 minutes of the second half before Mendota was able to beak through.
“He did a great job out there. For the first 20 minutes he was fantastic, I couldn’t fault him,” Robson said. “But one goal goes in and then it tends to follow on and the heads go down.
“Our team, in the past they’re heads have gone down (when we fell behind). We’re trying to lift the team - and only a team can lift a team. … We’re trying to get them to focus on ‘If a goal goes in, let’s fight back.’”
Chris Yucus can be reached at 220-6995 or at email@example.com . Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsChris.
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