Fresh off a big 4-1 victory over the Gillespie Miners Tuesday afternoon at Litchfield, the Hillsboro High School boys soccer team traveled to Vandalia Thursday afternoon, September 19, for a South Central Conference showdown against the host Vandals.
With a perfect 3-0 record in conference play after the win over the Miners, the Toppers hoped to stay perfect while at the same time stretching their unbeaten streak to an impressive 11 games. They were able to do just that as an explosion of offense was more than Vandalia could handle and the orange and black came away with a decisive 7-0 win.
Playing on one of the most expansive surfaces in the area, the home field at the Hillsboro Sports Complex, is a luxury for the Toppers as they like to spread the field and attack with passing and moving the ball offensively, but this spread attack form would hinder the visitors early as they were forced to adjust to a little bit smaller dimensions on the Vandalia field.
Shortly after kickoff, Hillsboro would be a little crowded in the middle of the field, but they were able to adjust quickly and put two shots on in the opening minutes of the half. The shots would both sail over the net and out of play, but it also showed that the Vandals, and especially their keeper, would be put on notice early and often.
Using terrific patience on offense and keeping the ball in the Vandal end for most of the opening six minutes of the first half, the Toppers would break through as sophomore forward Ethan Lentz took a throw in from senior Ian Roach and worked his way deep into the Vandalia corner. Lentz’s speed and agility would fool the Vandal left back and from there, the Topper standout would take it in himself and beat the Vandalia netminder to the low left side putting Hillsboro ahead 1-0.
Senior Josh Bauman would nearly add another tally on the ensuing Topper possession, but would get just under the ball and send it sailing over the net. Bauman would make up for the miscue the very next time he touched the ball, however, as he buried his next attempt putting Hillsboro up 2-0 just eight minutes into the tilt.
The Vandals would begin to string passes together in the middle minutes of the first and eventually worked their way downfield a bit, but each forward progress would be stymied by the Topper backline and get turned right back up field.
At the halfway point of the half, Hillsboro would strike again, this time as freshman midfielder Adison Pollard took matters into his own hands and worked the ball deep up the Vandalia right side. His crossing shot would find the back of the net for Pollard’s first career varsity goal padding the Topper lead to 3-0.
Hillsboro would nearly make it 4-0 just a minute later as the Vandals were whistled for a handball in their own penalty area and senior defender Tyler Watson was called on for the penalty kick attempt. Watson would strike his freebie on frame, but right into the keeper’s chest, ending the chance.
The Toppers would eventually pad their lead down the stretch as senior midfielder Joe Mattson took a terrific lead pass from fellow senior Dalton Greenwood and beat the Vandalia goalie for his tenth goal of the season making it 4-0.
Then, with less than 30 seconds remaining in the first half, Roach, who is typically a midfielder but was subbing in on the Hillsboro backline, put an arching shot on from just inside the half line that found its way into the top corner of the net extending the lead to 5-0 at the break.
When play resumed in the second, it was more of the same as Lentz picked up his second of the game and Greenwood would add one of his own, giving the Toppers the 7-0 advantage and enforcing the mercy rule as the remaining time was cut in half.
With the victory, the Hiltoppers would stretch their conference record to a perfect 4-0 and stretch their unbeaten streak to 11 games. In those 11 games, the Toppers have outscored their opponents 37-4, including shutouts by junior keeper Shaw Riggs in three of the last four games.
The Toppers return home this afternoon as they host their Montgomery County rivals the Lincolnwood Lancers in the second annual “Shoal Creek Shootout” and the coveted “tackle-box” traveling trophy. The varsity only match up begins at 4:30 p.m. at the Hillsboro Sports Complex.
September 19 at Vandalia
Hillsboro 5 2 - 7
Vandalia 0 0 - 0
Scoring: Hillsboro - Ethan Lentz 2, Josh Bauman 1, Adison Pollard 1, Joe Mattson 1, Ian Roach 1, Dalton Greenwood 1. Goalkeeper: Hillsboro - Shaw Riggs.
Record: Hillsboro (9-1-2).