Archbold showed why they are the defending state champions during Tuesday’s game, snapping a two-game losing streak with five second half goals that resulted in a 7-1 win on the road at Swanton in Northwest Ohio Athletic League boys soccer.
It was their first win in league play as they tied Bryan 2-2 in a match on Aug. 29.
“The league’s still in our hands. If we go and do our job and win out in the league, then it will be ours,” said Archbold coach Sean Stewart. “We got to take it one game at a time in the league. We set out today to play a lot better than we have been playing recently. Moving the ball and moving defenses a whole lot better. I think, at times we did that today. Especially in the second half and that showed. So we just got to continue to build on that.”
“We didn’t control the ball very well in the midfield and against a team like that you can’t do that or they will punish you,” said Swanton coach Joe Hensley. “The first half we didn’t have too much of a problem getting in the final third just couldn’t finish any shots.”
Archbold took the lead a little over six and a half minutes in on a crossing pass from Elijah Zimmerman that found Josiah Magallanes, who booted it into the back of the net.
Swanton’s Riley Hensley was awarded a free kick from 25 yards out with 28:02 left in the half, but the ball found its way into the sure hands of Blue Streak senior goalkeeper Noah Cheney. Hensley then had a free kick at the 25:58 mark that was also grabbed by Cheney.
The Bulldogs had a lapse defensively when Trey Theobald was able to streak through the middle of the defense, shooting one in the left corner of the net to give the Blue Streaks a 2-0 advantage with 16:46 left before halftime.
Swanton was able to keep it within two for almost the first 10 minutes of half number two, however, Kaden Rufenacht changed that when he put away a ball from Magallanes at the 30:33 mark.
Then one of Archbold’s top returning goal scorers, Zimmerman, got into the action, recording a hat trick in the final 22 minutes and change. His first came with 22:10 left in the game, knocking it home as a scrum ensued in front of the net.
Zimmerman later booted one over the head of Swanton keeper Ethan Hensley with 13:15 left, putting the Streaks up 5-0. He would score the final goal of the game when he put back his initial attempt that was turned away to reach the 7-1 final.
“Returning as one of our top goal scorers from last year. With over 30 goals. So we expect a lot from him,” said Stewart of Zimmerman. “It’s been tough sledding this year to find the opportunities and it’s good to see him find the back of the net. Hopefully get some consistency (moving forward).”
In between Zimmerman’s second and third goals, Riley Hensley got Swanton on the board with a little under 10 minutes to play. As the Bulldogs’ go to player on the offensive side, Archbold made sure to pay good attention to Riley Hensley all night.
“He’s obviously a great player,” said Stewart of Hensley. “Great with the ball at his feet. And can create so much for him and his teammates. There were a few times where he ran through three or four of us. And we’ve got to do a better job when that happens. But, all told, when you can keep a player like that quiet for most of the game, then I guess you’d count that as a success.”
The Streaks’ other goal down the stretch came from Dawson Liechty, who slammed it home despite some tight defense from Swanton’s Jonathon Byczynski.
“I told the boys at halftime that you are down 2-0 so you are still in this game but you have to come out and be the aggressor. We did not accomplish that as we gave up 5 goals in the second half due to defensive miscues,” said coach Hensley. “Overall, not the outcome we wanted but we have to get back to playing our type of soccer. We have a long season ahead of us so it’s good to fix the mistakes early in the season.”
Archbold (3-3-1, 1-0-1 NWOAL) is at Defiance on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Swanton (5-3, 2-1) welcomes Springfield Thursday at 5 p.m.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010