When a team or a group of people begin to realize their potential as one unit, the results can be scary for the opposition.
In a Labor Day contest between the Shawnee State men’s soccer program and the Midway (Ky.) men’s soccer program, the Bears, after tying the Eagles via a 2-2 tally at the halftime break, followed the tight first half action by outshooting Midway 10-3 in the second half en route to posting a four-goal second frame, and in all, received three goals from newcomers Thomas de Graauw and Joao Toledo in addition to three more strikes from Kevin de Lange and Mitchell Patchett en route to a 6-2 victory for the Bears on Monday evening in Midway.
Shawnee State, who outshot Midway 14-8 over the entire contest, put together three shots — all on goal — over the first nine minutes of play, with the Bears striking twice within a two-minute span thanks to the play of Toledo.
The freshman from Brazil, who has impressed the program with his speed and overall ball control, showcased his skills early and often by converting a Nathan Ewing pass into a goal in the seventh minute of action for the first goal of his career. Less than two minutes later, Toledo struck again by notching his first career assist via a feed to de Graauw, who finished off his first career blast with a mark in the ninth frame of play. Mark de Graaf’s initial shot in the fifth frame of play, which was saved, helped loosen the Midway defense up for the rest of the Bears as SSU took a 2-0 lead early on.
However, as the initial half went along, the Eagles put the clamps on the Bears’ offensive attack.
Following the first 10 minutes of action, Shawnee State only put together one additional shot over the remaining 35 minutes — a 22nd minute shot by Toledo that went wide — while Midway ramped up a counterattack of its own. During that same stretch, the Eagles put together all five of their first half shots during the last 35 minutes of play and got two equalizing goals out of it, including a 17th minute unassisted goal by Cody Trenkamp and, after producing three shots on goal on their own accord over a nine-minute stretch, a 37th minute shot by Brandon Ballard via a Evan Samakai feed that allowed Midway to erase Shawnee State’s lead and tie the score at two apiece heading into the halftime break.
However, as was the case in the first half, the Bears got out to a fast start as the second half commenced.
And this time, SSU didn’t risk any chance of a Midway comeback.
Over the first 12 minutes of the second and final frame of play, the Bears put together an absolute assault on the Midway end as SSU posted five of its 10 second-half shots in those opening 12 ticks alone, with SSU getting the go-ahead goal from Patchett in the 47th minute off of a feed from Jacob Perry.
Then, after the Bears just missed out on a second goal that was pulled high by Jack Sharmon-Dodd, de Lange got on the board off of another assist from Toledo in the 51st. Toledo’s high shot attempt in the 53rd was then followed by yet another SSU strike, with de Graauw getting on the board for the second time in the contest off of a feed from de Lange as the Bears pushed their lead to a 5-2 margin in the 57th minute. SSU, who only allowed one Midway shot attempt over the first 25 minutes of the second half defensively, put the game out of reach for good in the 78th, when de Lange added in his second goal of the game, and third of the season, off of a rebound on a saved shot that he initially put together.
“We played well today,” SSU head coach Ron Goodson said. “In the first half, we started off with great possession that created the first two goals, then got a little complacent and let them back in the contest. We came out in the second half, did a better job of controlling the game, and created good scoring chances. We had really good balance with the scoring with all three forwards (Toledo, de Graauw, de Lange) playing well today.”
Shawnee State, who posted nine shots on goal to Midway’s six in the contest, was edged in corner kicks by a 4-3 margin and committed six more fouls than the Eagles (14 to eight) but scored on exactly two-thirds of their official shots on goal and on 43 percent of their total shots compared to Midway convering 33 percent of its official shot-on-goal marks and 25 percent of its total shots on the evening.
Offensively, SSU was led by de Lange’s two goals and an assist, which amounted to five points overall, while de Graauw’s two goals and four points overall were matched by Toledo’s seventh minute goal and his two assists, which also resulted in a four-point mark. The trio combined for 10 of the Bears’ 13 shots on the evening, with de Graaf and Patchett — who scored on their lone shot attempts — and Perry adding in the remaining shot marks.
In goal, Kade Tomlinson posted another solid effort, saving four of his six shots en route to a .667 save percentage. The sophomore from Waxahachie, Texas added in the same exact marks that he posted in his prior outing in between the posts against Concordia (Mich.).
With the victory, SSU moves to 1-2 on the season. The Bears will play at Ohio Christian (0-2) on Wednesday evening in Circleville, with the nonconference bout slated for a 5 p.m. start.
For more information on SSU Bears Athletics, visit www.ssubears.com. SSU Athletics is also participating in the ongoing Bear Club Challenge in order to raise money for continued support for SSU student-athlete scholarships. To join the challenge and support SSU Athletics, visit www.ssubears.com/bearclubchallenge.