WARREN - After losing on senior night, the Ursuline Fighting Irish boys soccer team came into Thursday's match at John F. Kennedy High School with a lot of motivation, and perhaps nobody had more motivation than Zack Freer.
The senior played the past two matches at goalkeeper, filling in for starter Trey Roller, but Ursuline coach Roy Schmidt moved him atop the formation against the Eagles. Freer took full advantage and proved his best position is at forward by scoring two goals and assisting on another as the Irish routed Kennedy, 5-2.
"Zack had a killer game today," Schmidt said. "This is his first time back on the field (at forward). He wanted to prove something to me today (Thursday). He wanted to say, 'You're not putting me back in goal -you're keeping me on the field, coach.'
"He kind of did that. He's got his spot."
Freer was involved in two goals in a crucial four-minute span during the first half that broke open the match for Ursuline (3-5-2).
His team leading 2-1 in the 27th minute, the senior forward had the ball inside Kennedy's penalty area without any help and enticed an Eagle (2-4-2) defender to take him by accelerating between two defenders and dribbling the ball right before the defender dove in for the tackle. Freer stepped up and converted the penalty.
Then, in the 30th minute, Freer released teammate John Hintz, who also scored two goals and added an assist, with a through ball into the box, and Hintz completed the play to give Ursuline a 4-1 lead that the team held until halftime, showing how well the Irish dominated the first half.
"We just got a little edge early and were able to capitalize," Schmidt said. "Sometimes, that's the difference. It was 1-1, and all of the sudden, we got bang, bang, bang. That's what happens when you're momentum takes you that way, and today it worked in our favor. The ball was going into the net instead of wide or into the goalkeeper's hands, so it went well for us."
The Eagles recovered somewhat in the second half, finding some success on the right wing with senior Tyler Cole and Eric Bofenkamp, who moved from his center forward position to wing to give Cole and others options further up the field, but with all the pressing forward for goals, their only managed one goal in the 57th minute. Bofenkamp took a quick free kick from outside the penalty area and passed to an unmarked Josh Lubich, who fired into the back of the net.
Kennedy coach Scott DePasquale said the Eagles wanted to get the ball on the right wing more often in the match, and between that and the defense struggling against the experienced Ursuline forwards, they allowed the deficit to become too large to overcome.
"That was the gameplan going into today's game, which was a disappointment," DePasquale said. "They couldn't execute it in the first half of the game, hence our slow start. Defensively, we were weak starting, and offensively, we weren't sticking to the gameplan. We dug ourselves a hole that we couldn't climb out of."
Schmidt said the result showed Ursuline is starting to get healthy at the right time and his team will play much better than its record indicates once tournament time rolls around in October.
"I think we're getting prepared with everyone getting healthy," Schmidt said. "Going into the run-in, we're going to be strong and solid. Sometimes it doesn't sound that way when you say 3-5-2, but a lot of times it's your competition, the way you play that day, injuries. The season is an interesting thing, and the ball bounces real funny in this game."