SOUTH WEBSTER — Throughout Corey Claxon’s coaching regime at South Webster, the Jeeps’ boys soccer program has proven to be a force to be reckoned with, no matter who it plays, or what division their opponent is in.
On Thursday evening, Claxon’s Jeeps, once again, stood up to the challenge as three first-half goals — one each from Ty Collins, Shiloah Blevins, and Sam Holstein — along with a second-half goal from the latter — allowed South Webster to roll to a 4-0 victory over the Minford Falcons as the Jeeps took home an impressive victory in its season-opener.
For Claxon, the victory was simply about how his players took the opportunity to step up and deliver as their now-departed teammates had as upperclassmen.
“The young guys that we have really stepped up from last year, knew what to expect, and stepped into their roles comfortably,” Claxon said. “Last year, we tied Minford (1-1) early in the season. I told the guys that we need to take care of business here, because Minford’s always given us trouble in the first game of the season. This was our first game, and I told the guys that we needed to take care of business here because Minford has always given us trouble in the first game of the season.”
As for Dave Gampp, the veteran head coach simply had to settle for progress from his Falcons unit against a talented South Webster team.
“We played a lot better in the second half,” Gampp said. “We just kept wanting to play in the middle, and South Webster is super strong in the center of the field. They’ve got some really talented players in the middle and they have height, but they can play some balls down low and get headers off of them, too. It’s hard to get the height that some of their players have. However, we’ve got them again later in the season, and hopefully, we can improve on what we did today and get a lot better.”
Over the first several minutes of play, both teams switched possession back and forth before South Webster ultimately took control behind the play of the aforementioned trio and a defensive unit that put the clamps down on the middle of the field.
After relentlessly attacking the goal from the fifth to the 15th minute, the Jeeps struck as Ty Collins beat the Minford defense to the left side of the goal by pounding a ball into the back side of the net in 16th minute.
“That was a good hustle goal,” Claxon said of Ty’s goal. “We moved Ty back to the midfield spot, and he’s done extremely well there. We’re finding where guys need to be, and we’ve found some good combinations. I like where we’re at so far.”
Just four minutes later, it was Blevins who made his own mark. After making a nice run up the middle of the field, Andrews dumped off possession to the 6-5 junior, who collected a creative finish with by beating the Minford defense to the spot and — despite tripping over a pair of Falcon defenders — managed to finish the ball in the back of the net.
Over the next 12 minutes, the Minford defense held up relatively well against the South Webster onslaught. However, the Falcons’ offensive attack couldn’t get going as South Webster’s length in the middle of the field made it difficult for Minford to operate as the Falcons only were able to attempt three shots on goal in the first half of play. Part of that issue, Gampp said, was the lack of spacing that the Falcons created on the offensive end.
“Minford put a few shots together in the second half,” Claxon said, complimenting the Falcons. “We’ve got a pair of juniors back there in Michael Andrews and Jacob Ruth that are really key back there. There’s a bunch of guys who are doing well on the backline, including Josiah Edwards and Caleb Cunningham, but Michael and Jacob have really held things together for us.”
“We made the field about 30 yards wide when it’s almost 60,” Gampp said. “That really hurt us. They really pressured us in the middle, and we haven’t had teams really pressure us like that too much. We’ve just to get better at knowing how to turn, switch, change direction quicker, and play from a more vertical standpoint than from a horizontal standpoint. We just didn’t play many vertical balls in the corner to get runouts, so once you don’t go vertical, it makes it where you’re just defensive-minded. It makes it a whole lot tougher, especially with their talent.”
With South Webster controlling the pace on both ends of the field, the Jeeps, behind the efforts of Sam Holstein, continued to increase the lead. In the 33rd and 53rd minutes of action, Holstein collected two excellent finishes as the junior stepped up to provide two brilliant right-to-left finishes that not only nestled into the left corner of the net, but were of the unassisted variety as the Jeeps set up the final margin.
“Shiloah and Sam work really work together,” Claxon said of Blevins and Holstein. “We’ve also got some guys behind them that can step up and provide some scoring punch as well.”
The 4-0 victory, which moved South Webster to 1-0 on the year, puts the Jeeps in great position heading into their first SOC I matchup against Clay, which will be held at Rosemount.
As for Minford, the Falcons, who fell to 1-1 on the year, will host Athens at 6 p.m. on Saturday in an effort to beef up the competition that it is facing over the course of the season.
“I want our players to see really tough teams early on, because we’ve been doing good,” Gampp said. “We need to play some really tough opponents in order to see where we need to improve on and get better at, so that when we hit the SOC II portion of our schedule, we’ll get better and play well against them.”
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7