Early goal keys Harding in win over JFK

WARREN – Thomas Malacky loves to show off his skills with the soccer ball at his feet. Warren G. Harding coach Tilden Tatebe doesn’t love it at all, but was willing to admit it worked, following Malacky’s early goal in the Raiders’ 5-0 victory Thursday over John F. Kennedy at Mollenkopf Stadium.

Malacky dazzled his way through Eagles’ defenders before putting the ball in the back of the net just 51 seconds into the match for a 1-0 lead for Harding (2-3).

“It was a clever goal,” Tatebe said. “Thomas likes to show off his skills. A lot of times, it doesn’t work and we tell him not to do it. Today, it did. He did a pirouette and scored. It was nice. We told him not to do it again the rest of the game.”

The tally seemed to relax the Raiders.

“That took the pressure off of us,” Tatebe said. “We had some recent games where we didn’t play as well, especially on defense. We played some good teams. (The first goal) freed our guys up. We played freer, we moved the ball and we weren’t pressing as much.”

That early strike made life difficult for Kennedy (1-2-1).

“We came out like we do every game – to win,” coach Scott DePasquale said. “It’s hard, when you get scored on so quickly, to stay motivated. We did a nice job in the second half of not allowing so many shots.

“They’re an offensive team and they shoot well. Even when they’re 30 yards out, they’re not hesitating. In the second half, they didn’t get shots off as easily.”

The Raiders took advantage on their second goal as a JFK defender watched the ball roll right down the sideline in front of an official, who never called the ball out of bounds. Malacky took possession of the ball dribbled in, and shot. The ball deflected to Chris Carter who passed to Avery Stovell, who shot and scored for a 2-0 Raiders’ lead in the 12th minute.

“I saw a lot of speed,” DePasquale said. “They had a lot of speed we had to deal with. We did a pretty good job of not letting them get behind us, but we gave up a lot of shots in the middle of the field. We dropped off (to prevent Harding from using its speed), but we created a lot of space in the middle of the field. They got a lot of shots off and we got behind on the scoreboard early.”

Jacob Sperry added the Raiders’ third goal after Kennedy managed to keep Harding from scoring on a corner, but didn’t clear the ball. Sperry got to the loose ball and ripped a shot right through the middle of the defense and scored from 18 yards out with 15:57 left in the first half.

Dalonte Williamson again knocked a loose ball into the net for a 4-0 Raiders’ advantage at the intermission. He later added Harding’s final goal just past midway through the second half on an assist from Dominic Van Winkle.

“The goals they did score were on a lot of set pieces,” DePasquale said. “We didn’t have to give up the fouls to give them the set pieces. We’d have one player countered by four of theirs and we’d commit the foul. There was no need for those penalties. They were unnecessary. (The Raiders) can really strike the ball and they can finish. Giving up those set pieces was not to our advantage.”

Dimitri Callow had five saves and Tanner Rivera added two more for the shutout.

“Those were great saves (by Rivera in the closing minutes),” Tatebe said. “He did a great job (to preserve the shutout). Dimitri is a great player. He’s been first-team All-District the last two years and should be there again this year.

“Tanner did a phenomenal job on that last save. It was spectacular. That shot was definitely going in if he didn’t make that save.”