LAKEVILLE — While LaVille may not have started off quite as fast as it would’ve liked, once the Lancers got rolling, they dominated.
A veteran Lancers squad opened its Northern State Conference schedule with a win Monday as it handed visiting Culver a 9-3 defeat at Newton Park.
“I wish we would have gotten off to a little better start; it took us a minute to find our rhythm a little bit,” said LaVille Head Boys Soccer Coach Kevin Christy. “We’ve got to work on that a little bit, getting a little better touches a little earlier. Especially with the conference now — the first game for conference and the NSC — you need to start quickly on every opponent; you can’t let any of them stay in. We’re going to see everybody two times, and especially a conference opponent, you need to start out hard or you might get lost in the shuffle.”
“With conference standings, it’s our first conference game, so it’s good to get a win,” he continued. “We’re going to have to fight for all of them. It’s going to be a better conference this year than it has in the past.”
While the Lancers moved to a 3-0 start following wins over South Bend Washington and Mishawaka, Monday’s game was the first of the year for the Cavaliers, a squad with six seniors but plenty of youth and inexperience.
“I have seven freshmen. I had two freshmen start tonight and four sophomores, so we’re a young team,” said Culver head coach Jeff Becker.
“I think we had areas we played well, all in all. It was our first game of the season. We had a rain-out at our Jamboree and a change in schedule. This is our first time we’ve had a chance to get on the field, and we need to do more work, that’s for sure.”
The Lancers outshot the Cavs by a 13-6 margin, including nine gos for four goals by speedy senior striker Jordyn Williams, who struck twice within a minute span in the seventh and eighth minutes to put LaVille on the board, then tacked on two more scores in the 15th and 53rd minutes. Craig Romano and J.T. Saylor notched a goal and an assist apiece for the Lancers, while Tristan Weaver and Justin Gramza also found the back of the net for the home team.
Culver’s offense took some time to break through, but the Cavs finally scored in the 51st minute on an unassisted shot from Kyle Vlach that cut LaVille’s lead to 6-1. Joseph Nehemith and Colin Deon scored in the 69th and the 72nd minute for the visitors, but it was much too little, too late.
“They were faster than we were,” said Becker. “We just didn’t have the backfield for them today. I think our offense and our midfield started out controlling the ball well and then once we gave up two or three goals, we kind of gave up that area. LaVille is a fast team, and I don’t know how many games they’ve had this year, but they moved the ball well, a lot better than we did. Our ball movement wasn’t as good as I wanted to see, but it’s better than it’s been in the past. All in all, I think we’ll have a good season; I just think we started out rough.”
While Culver battles some relative inexperience, LaVille is fully reloaded in 2011 with 11 seniors and nine juniors. In the first year of a classed state soccer tournament, the Lancers face a new sectional field containing Bethany Christian, Elkhart Christian Academy and Mishawaka Marian as well as old conference and tourney foe John Glenn, and they’re hoping to revise their disappointing runner-up finish at last year’s sectionals, when they lost 1-0 to NorthWood.
“We’re an experienced crew as far as years of service, it’s just we’ve got to have those guys become leaders,” said Christy. “Joey Vest is doing a great job as a leader, Jordyn is doing it on the field. I could name 11 guys right off the bat or 12 or 13. They’re all doing an excellent job at practices with tempo, keeping up the pace a little bit, and that’s helped us from years past as far as working a little harder. With the new sectionals, the new class system, it’s anybody’s right now, and we’re in a very, very, very talented sectional so we can’t take anybody lightly as a way to prepare for that. I think that’s what high school athletics is getting to: It’s about that tournament and what you can do when you get there. We’re working towards that.”
• LAVILLE 9, CULVER COMMUNITY 3
L — Jordyn Williams, 7th minute
L — Williams (J.T. Saylor), 8th minute
L — Williams, 15th minute
L — Craig Romano, 17th minute
L — Zach Hostetler, 27th minute
L — Justin Gramza, 44th minute
C — Kyle Vlach, 51st minute
L — Williams (Romano), 53rd minute
L — Saylor (Kainen Norman), 65th minute
L — Tristan Weaver, 66th minute
C — Joseph Nehemith, 69th minute
C — Colin Deon, 72nd minute
Shots on goal: LaVille 13, Culver 6
Saves: Culver 3, LaVille 4 (Joey Vest, Jeff Haygood)
Records: Culver 0-1, LaVille 3-0.