Long layoff no problem for Lakeview
CORTLAND — Lakeview boys soccer coach Bryan Phillips understood his team had not played a game in nearly two weeks. He wasn’t certain about how his team might perform given that layoff.
Phillips didn’t need to worry as the Bulldogs began their postseason with an impressive 9-0 drubbing of West Branch in a Division II sectional bracket final at Don Richards Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
“With 11 days off, you never know what you’ll get,” Phillips said. “I felt like we started strong and just kept going.”
The top-seeded Bulldogs (16-0-1) will play the Hubbard-Ursuline winner in a district semifinal at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Don Richards Memorial Stadium.
Lakeview showed no signs of rust as it took the ball down the field for a shot attempt in the opening seconds.
“We talk about staying focused, staying hungry,” Phillips said. “We had 11 days off. I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect. I know what they can do, but to be honest, I did not expect it. We could’ve scored 20 seconds in, but their goalie came out and made a great save.”
Danny Golar finally broke the seal for the Bulldogs, scoring off a crossing pass from Josh Kelly in the eighth minute. Marcus Cole got in on the act just a minute later on Golar’s assist and Lakeview led, 2-0, with 31:16 left in the first half.
“We knew they were a good team,” West Branch coach Matt Thomas said. “They have four or five quality players who bring the best out of everyone on the team. They look organized and when most teams are getting shots from (outside the penalty box), they’re getting shots from inside the box.”
The Bulldogs didn’t score again for more than 10 minutes when Jeff Remmick knocked a penalty kick into the net following a West Branch handball in the box with 18:41 left in the half.
“I definitely thought there was a little lull,” Phillips said. “When you’re up, 2-0, I wanted them to kick them while they were down. That sounds mean, but it’s what you’ve got to do at tournament time.”
Seven different Lakeview players netted goals and four different players had assists.
“It shows our depth,” Phillips said. “They were really marking Noah (Busefink) trying to take him out. That was obvious. By them focusing on Noah, it created a lot of opportunities for the other players.”
Blake Gill scored on a throw-in from Golar and Anthony Sylvester tallied on another crossing pass from Kelly as Lakeview carried a 5-0 lead into the intermission.
Cole opened the gates in the second half on a diving header on a corner kick from Kelly and it was 6-0 in favor of the Bulldogs with 31:23 remaining in the contest. Jarrett Collins got in on the act and scored off an assist from Cole with 29:42 to play.
Busefink was finally able to find a bit of space and scored off Brendan White’s pass with 26:34 remaining. Gill netted the Bulldogs’ final goal after taking a long pass off the chest, dribbling it off the top of his head before racing several yards and knocking it into the net for the 9-0 advantage with 14:40 to play.
“We knew from talking to other coaches we couldn’t take (Busefink) all the way out,” Thomas said. “(Golar) is great on the outside and gets shots. (Collins) does a great job finding space and settling the offense down. You don’t find many teams who start their offense in the back and do such a good job getting the ball to their playmakers. We knew taking one kid out wasn’t going to make a huge difference.”
The Lakeview defense kept goalkeeper Zac White clean in the shutout. White had two saves and West Branch (7-8-4) attempted just three shots in the game.
“They’re a solid group,” Phillips said. “It’s hard for me to say much more.”