LIMA — With only 13 players on its roster — eight of them freshmen — Spencerville’s boys soccer team (co-ed) knew it was going to have a rough year in 2012.
Lima Central Catholic was going to end it Monday evening under the lights of Lima Stadium, whipping the Bearcats (0-15-0) 8-2 in the Division III Lima District first round.
The Thunderbirds (10-5-2) scored all eight of its goals in the first half.
“We’re just so young; we have to play so many freshmen,” Spencerville first-year coach Josh Hobbs explained. “Plus, we don’t have the numbers right now. The good thing is that I only lose one senior and everyone else is back. We’re expecting to add — hopefully — eight or nine as freshmen next year and in our fifth through eighth grades, we have 40. We had 12 get varsity experience and played in the tournament; we need to look forward from here.”
The first goal came just 23 ticks into it as Sean Daley dribbled up the right side and put in an 8-yarder past Bearcat sophomore keeper Byron Gay (9 saves vs. 18 shots on-goal in the first half).
It was another 4:24 before Jacob Williams headed one in off a corner kick from the left side (by Matt McNamara) for a 2-0 lead.
The T-Birds netted six more in the final 35 minutes of the first half.
At 28:42, Jose Dominguez made a run down the right side and fired a 14-yarder.
At the 27:34 mark, Daley shot a wide-open 14-yarder from the left wing for a 4-0 edge.
Chris Walter put his name in the scoring book at 22:32 off a deflected shot struck by McNamara.
Joe Cunningham continued the assault — via a cross from the left side from Ben Stechschulte to the right post — at 21:2 for a 6-0 spread.
Stechschulte — who was the starting goalkeeper but was replaced 8-plus minutes into the match by Kyle Smith — put back a deflected corner kick from the left side by Connor AbouJaoude at 14:20.
LCC’s final tally came at 11:20 by Daniel Gustaesson as he fired a 25-yard laser from the left post that deflected off a defender and into the twine.
Spencerville got its first shot on-goal at 10:18 when junior Ashley King fired a 15-yarder that Smith grabbed.
The Bearcats tried again at 7:15 when lone senior Austin Oehlhof shot 20-yarder but Smith (6 saves vs. 11 shots on-goal, many of them deflected away by defenders) knocked it aside.
Spencerville got its first goal with 4:00 left in the half when Oehlhof — courtesy of a lead pass from freshman David Wisher — 1-touched a 15-yarder by Smith from the left post.
LCC did not attempt a shot in the second half — as instructed by their head coach Bryan Burkholder — instead, working on their possession game.
The Bearcats had some tires to score the second half: at 36:47 on a 45-yarder by Gay (now in the field) and at 35:00 when Oehlhof launched a 20-yarder; but Smith rejected both.
The Bearcats ended the scoring at 1:52 when Oehlhof put in his final score of his high school soccer career, a 10-yard putback of a ricochet on Gay’s effort.
“We will be back here Saturday against Liberty-Benton and we just decided at halftime to use this as a practice. You don’t get the chance that often to practice on this turf,” Burkholder added. “We realized early on in the match that it was a mismatch — Spencerville gave everything but the numbers game was in our favor. We tried to use our subs as much as possible and still not fall into bad habits.”
LCC will play the top-seeded Eagles at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.