ALBANY — OU grad and Waverly head man Luke McAllister always enjoys his forays back to his old college stomping grounds, but this was to be a tough trip.
His Tiger squad was dealing with injuries including a four-year starter at goaltender. On the other hand, Kirk Crow’s Spartans were, for the most part, relatively healthy and looking to peak for tournament time.
Working the flanks with regularity, Alexander’s offense created some early danger. Kyler D’Augustino rang a shot off the crossbar in the first minute then followed it five minutes later, taking an Ethan Neidhart pass and blasting a hooking shot from the right side that settled into the strings for the 1-0 lead.
Then McAllister’s five man midfield scheme slowed the Spartan attack somewhat. They defended well, spraying inlets to the sidelines and over the touch line. That led to a number of corner kicks for the Spartans but they could not connect.
Midway through the first half, the Tigers knotted the score. With a lead ball that was seemingly well defended, it took an odd bounce in the box off a Spartan arm. The resulting handling infraction created the first goal scoring opportunity for Waverly. Junior David Boyer tucked in the freebie past Landon Ding and it was 1-1.
Alexander regained the lead two minutes later and never looked back. D’Augustino gathered in a deflected Jace Ervin throw-in and popped it into the twine for his second goal of the night.
Neidhart and Dylan Allison were on patrol in the midfield and the former created the next goal opportunity. Intercepting the ball in the middle third, he placed the ball to a streaking D’Augustino who made a deposit to the far post for his third goal of the evening. That ended the scoring in the first half at 3-1 Alexander.
“They were able to get us off our game at first with that 3-5-2 with the overload in the middle, but we got settled. Getting the early goal helped though we hated giving up the PK,” Crow said. “But we got things back together for the 3-1 halftime lead.”
The second forty was all Alexander. It took under two minutes for the Spartans to strike. Alex Norris threaded a ball upfield to D’Augustino who in turn found a spot where Parker Bolin was arriving. The smooth senior powered the ball into the back of the net and the lead was upped to 4-1.
A minute later they took advantage of another defensive clear over the touch line. Allison sent the corner kick to the far post where D’Augustino was rising to head the ball into the webbing. His fourth marker of the game took the lead to 5-1 home side.
Bolin and Neidhart combined for the next tally in a pretty display of footwork for the senior. Bolin did the tarantella along the end line through two defenders, slipped the ball to Neidhart, who, in turn, worked the give and go back to him. Bolin got the passback and seamlessly tipped it into the net. With the 6-1 score, the running clock was implemented and Crow started to install his subs.
The final score of the night was a penalty kick from a handling infraction by one of the Tiger substitute defenders. Andrew Nance drilled the PK past freshman keeper Hunter Hauk to end the night with a 7-1 victory.
“We were a little sluggish adjusting to their defense at first but we were able to get it together, use our speed on the wings, and control the middle. I told the team we needed to score quickly at the beginning of the second half and we put three goal on the board in less than ten minutes. That put it away for us.”
Having earned their eleventh victory of the year, the Spartans will host Point Pleasant on Thursday, ranked number one in West Virginia. First touch will follow the girls’ game against Eastern Brown. It will be senior night for both teams.
Alex 3 4 7
Waverly 1 0 1
Alex D’Augustino (Neidhart) 1st 34:15 1-0
Waverly Boyer (PK) 1st 18:38 1-1
Alex D’Augustino 1st 16:24 2-1
Alex D’Augustino (Neidhart) 1st 03:10 3-1
Alex Bolin (D’Augustino) 2nd 38:24 4-1
Alex D’Augustino (Allison) 2nd 37:16 5-1
Alex Bolin (Neidhart) 2nd 30:50 6-1
Alex Nance (PK) 2nd 05:20 7-1