Note: This story appears in the Tuesday, Oct. 8 newspaper on Page A6.
Scoring a hat-trick in a soccer match is a rare feat. Scoring two is in one game is practically unheard of.
But that’s exactly what happened Saturday afternoon, when Danny Goetz notched all six goals in the Athens Bulldogs’ 6-0 victory over visiting North Adams at R. Basil Rutter Field in The Plains.
The avalanche of strikes gave the senior forward 34 goals on the season, 60 for his career, and lifted the Bulldogs (12-2-1) to a much-needed morale-boosting win after a frustrating Challenge Cup draw against Alexander on Thursday.
Athens controlled the match throughout, as the midfield and defense maintained possession and broke up the long balls that constituted much of the Green Devils’ attack. Goetz, Will Pigman, Zane Evans and Brian Johnson all saw attempts miss narrowly wide of the frame in the opening twenty minutes.
The Bulldogs nearly broke through with 18:04 remaining in the first half, when defender Will Matters teed up a 40-yard free kick. The audacious strike caromed off the crossbar, and North Adams goalkeeper Cole Wagner was able to recover the rebound.
Goetz thought he had opened the scoring two minutes later, after he took a well-weighted through ball from Zach Reifler and beat Wagner on a 1-on-1 opportunity. The offside flag came up, however, negating the goal.
With the pressure mounting, it seemed inevitable that the North Adams dam would eventually break — and break it did. At the 12:58 mark, junior Donovan O’Malley connected with Goetz on a long cross from the wing. Goetz beat his man to the ball, cut it back, and slid a calm finish underneath a diving Wagner to give the hosts a 1-0 advantage.
The Bulldog point man doubled Athens’ advantage in short order, after some great individual play from Pigman. The winger beat two Green Devil defenders down the right side, cut past several more to get into the penalty area, and squared it off for Goetz. With the goalkeeper at his mercy, Goetz slammed his close-range effort into the roof of the net for the 2-0 cushion.
The Green Devils, for their part, did muster a few first-half chances amongst the plethora of Athens opportunities. Grant Harper ripped a 45-yarder into the gloves of Bulldog netminder Finn Mitchell, while Jayden Hesler saw his effort from the corner of the penalty box sail narrowly wide of the far post.
Nonetheless, it was the Bulldogs who came out roaring in the second period, and Goetz who continued his tear. Less than a minute after halftime, Pigman again provided some nifty dribbling skills and a solid cross to the top of the six-yard box. Wagner came to claim the ball but missed, leaving Goetz with an empty net to tap it his third of the night.
With his hat-trick completed, Goetz immediately began work on his second one. This time it was Braulio Rosas-Clouse providing the assist, intercepting a pass in the attacking third and sliding the senior attacker into the box. Goetz hammered a low effort beyond the reach of Wagner to make it 4-0.
The same connection paid dividends fifteen minutes later, when Rosas-Clouse connected with Goetz on a long ball down the middle. Facing a 1-on-1 with Wagner, Goetz held his nerve, rolling the ball into the corner of the net.
Goetz’s, and Athens’, nightcap came with 15:17 left on the timer. Wes Dodrill found some space on the right side and crossed low to Goetz, who had made a run across the box. Like clockwork, the striker made it 6-0 with another cool finish.
The Bulldogs did have chances to pound more misery into the traveling men from Seaman, with a fresh wave of attackers providing a late spark. Andy Pagan saw his header saved superbly in the top corner, while Evans and Owen Buckley both struck powerful efforts just high of goal. Brady Jaunarajs’ free kick attempt at the buzzer likewise sailed over.
Athens concludes their season with a Thursday night tilt against Wood County Christian (6-5). The Bulldogs will honor seniors Aziz Alharbi, Wes Dodrill, Danny Goetz, Brian Johnson, Finn Mitchell, Mason Mauzy, Will Pigman and Zach Reifler at halftime of the match. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.