Fresh off a night when the Hillsboro High School boys soccer team took one on the chin against the Mater Dei Knights in the form of a 2–0 loss that dropped the Toppers to 10–5 on the season, the orange and black took to the field Saturday morning in an all important SCC Conference match–up against the Pana Panthers.
The Panthers and Toppers were actually scheduled to meet last Tuesday afternoon, but unsettled weather and lots of lightning forced a postponement of the weekend contest. It would be worth the wait for Hillsboro, however, as timely offense allowed the Toppers to come away with a big 6–2 win.
It didn’t take long for the Toppers to show what they were made of as wide open play at midfield allowed Hillsboro to get looks early on.
At just the four-minute mark of the first half, the Toppers would break through as senior midfielder Ryan Kirby controlled the ball at midfield and found junior midfielder Luke Mackey up the right side. Mackey was able to take the ball up the side and deep into the Pana territory before playing a perfect cross in front.
With four Toppers crashing the net at the same time, the Panther defense could only hope to contain the backline but that would prove to be too much as freshman Chad Sharp buried the ball putting Hillsboro up 1–0.
Minutes later, it would be Sharp again as the forward utilized his speed to take a through ball from midfield and get in behind the Panther defense. The forward would actually get knocked down on the breakaway, regain his feet, and still beat the Pana keeper to the low right side for his second goal in 15 minutes, putting Hillsboro very much in command at 2–0.
At the midway point of the half, the Toppers would continue to take it to the Panthers and this all stemmed from tremendously unselfish play on the part of the orange and black. After a great settle just past the midfield line, junior Joseph Passariello would find his brother Quintin Passariello up front with a terrific lead pass. Quintin was able to make a little room of his own with a nice move on the Panther defender before he dropped off a perfect pass to Kirby who was step for step with him on the right side.
With the pass on the foot, all Kirby had to do was redirect the pass and he did so beautifully to beat the keeper to the low right side putting the Toppers up 3–0 with 20 minutes left in the half.
Hillsboro would have several more chances in the middle minutes of the first, but a shot over the bar here followed by a blast wide of the crossbar there would stymie the Topper scoring efforts. It wouldn’t be until there were ten minutes left in the half before Hillsboro would strike again, but this time it would be from an unlikely source as Joseph Passariello, the defender, lined up for a free kick just over the half line.
His shot on was perfect and would take a huge bounce which was misplayed by the Panther keeper who had come out too far to play the ball, ultimately bouncing right over the keeper’s head and into the net for the fourth Hillsboro goal of the half. Then, with two minutes to go in the half, Joseph’s backline mate Brad Noreuil got into the act with a goal of his own to put the Toppers up 5–0 at the break.
Pana would get the Toppers’ attention just after play resumed in the second as a broken play in front on the part of the Hillsboro defense resulted in a Panther shot on that caromed off the crossbar and out of play. The near miss showed that the Panthers still had plenty of fight left in them and served notice to the Toppers that they weren’t not out of it by any stretch of the imagination.
After the Pana chance, Hillsboro would settle down on defense and get back to the style which made them successful and they were able to add to their already sizeable lead as Quintin Passariello picked up a goal to stretch the lead to 6–0.
The Panthers would make a little noise late as a tally with 14 minutes left would bring them within five and another with one minute and 30 seconds left on a defensive breakdown on the part of Hillsboro would bring them within four, but that’s as close as they would come as the Toppers held on for the 6–2 win.
The Toppers return to action this afternoon as they face off against arch rival the Litchfield Purple Panthers before rounding out the regular season with a match at Riverton on Tuesday, culminating in senior night versus Athens on Thursday.