After a game on Saturday at Springfield Lutheran that saw the Toppers explode for seven goals en route to a decisive 7-0 victory over the host Crusaders, the Hillsboro High School boys soccer team traveled to Roxana Tuesday afternoon, March 30, for an South Central Conference showdown for the last time with the Shells.
With Roxana jumping ship out of the conference at the end of this year, chances are likely that it may have been the last trip for the orange and black to visit the Shells, at the very least the last with conference implications.
Whatever the case, the Toppers took advantage of the trip to not only boost their record but also their stat sheet as three first half goals were followed up by four more in the second half to improve Hillsboro to 6-2-1 on the year as they came away with another 7-0 win.
The Toppers were able to control tempo from the opening kickoff as they used a change of lineup to maximize their speed up front while, at the same time, provide a little more of a spread set in the backfield. The change would pay dividends almost immediately as Hillsboro was able to move the ball on the Shells and work deep into their defensive zone.
Hillsboro would nearly break through just minutes into the first as junior defender Devin Speiser found himself on the doorstep of the Roxana net only to have the ball trickle through on a misplay on the part of the Shell backliners. Speiser was taken a bit by surprise with the ball making it that far through the zone, however, and was unable to get a direct shot on frame.
After the near miss, fellow junior Ethan Lentz would find himself with doorstep opportunity as well after using a terrific move just inside the 18 yard box and shaking loose of the Roxana defender.
This time Shell keeper Ted Webb would be there to make a stellar play in front to end the drive, but at the 11 minute mark of the half, the lid would finally get pried off the goal.
Sophomore forward Will Christian found himself with a little space from 25 yards out and placed an absolute missile on net beating Webb to the upper left for the 1-0 lead.
Senior Frankie Passariello would score on nearly an identical shot placed just as hard and just as perfectly minutes later to give the Toppers the 2-0 lead and the two pills on net set the stage for some of the most inspired Hillsboro offensive play of the season.
Using great timing and effort to spread the field on the Shells, the Toppers would continue to make runs on net forcing Roxana to play a little recklessly on defense.
This recklessness would nearly spell disaster for the home team with 14:38 left in the half as Lentz found freshman forward Logan Murray up front. Murray would beat the defender but get wiped out in the process and was awarded a penalty kick for his efforts. His freebie would get stopped right on the doorstep with a nice diving save on the part of the Webb, who corralled the shot and then sent it back up the other way.
With 4:21 left in the half, the Shells would get their best look on the Hillsboro net as the midfield were patient with their possession and created a little space before knocking one on from deep.
Topper keeper Shaw Riggs, who was in great position, was there to punch the ball up and over the net to make the save, but the strike showed Roxana still had plenty of life and weren´t going away that easy.
Then, with just 35 seconds left in the half, Hillsboro would put a dagger in the Shell comeback attempt as sophomore mid Adison Pollard carried the ball deep into the corner and placed a perfect cross ball in front to Christian. He would knock it home for his second of the game and his fourth in the last two games to give the Toppers the commanding 3-0 lead heading into the break.
When play resumed in the second, Hillsboro would waste no time jumping back on the offensive as junior defender Matt Page, using a quick step to control the ball at midfield and hop into the play, found Pollard up front and alone inside the six yard box.
Pollard would get a shot on, get knocked down in the process, and still get up to find his own rebound and bury the second chance to give the Toppers the 4-0 lead. Lentz would knock home one of his own just a minute later grabbing his team leading 11th tally of the year, putting Hillsboro up 5-0.
Murray would then find redemption on his earlier miss at the halfway mark of the second as Lentz would connect with the freshman with a perfect through ball on the ground, resulting in a breakaway that Murray would finish for his first career varsity goal.
The score would be followed up with an almost identical play between the two, with Murray grabbing a second goal to put the Toppers up 7-0 and cut the remaining time in half.
From there, Hillsboro would coast picking up their sixth victory of the season and an all too important conference victory to stay a perfect 3-0 in SCC play.
“It was terrific to see the scoring be so spread today,” Topper coach Jason Burke said. “Coach (Matt) Lentz had just said before that we have lots of threats offensively and that really showed today. To have five different guys make it onto the score sheet is a terrific situation and a real testament to the talent of this group. Super proud of the effort.”
The win improved Hillsboro’s record to 6-2-1 going into their game with Lincolnwood on Wednesday. The Toppers have one more game on tap this coming week as they take on Staunton on Thursday, April 1, at 4:30 p.m. for senior night.
March 27 at Hillsboro
Hillsboro 3 4 - 7
Roxana 0 0 - 0
Hillsboro Scoring: Will Christian 2, Logan Murray 2, Frankie Passariello 1, Adison Pollard 1, Ethan Lentz 1. Hillsboro Goalkeeper: Shaw Riggs.
Record: Hillsboro (6-2-1).