Olympians race past Indians
Thor Huth of Jim Thorpe controls the ball while Lehighton’s Eldin Cokrlija (12) and Drew Lorenz close in defensively. For a video visit www.tnonline.com. RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Jim Thorpe head soccer coach Michael Dudak has watched his boys soccer team methodically work its way up to speed in the early portion of the season.
Dudak got to see what the Olympians looked like playing with a full head of steam Monday night.
Jim Thorpe found the throttle early, riding three first half goals to a 4-1 Schuylkill League win over Lehighton.
“We’re not a team that plays from the lead very often. We’re a play-from-behind team,” Dudak said. “At halftime, I actually said to the boys, ‘Does it feel any different playing this way, where you’ve got room to make a mistake. You’re playing with more confidence, and you know if you do make a mistake, we’re not going to lose the game, necessarily. ...’
“I’m trying to get that in their heads, because it does change the way you play the game. If you can play with the lead, you can play a lot differently.”
The Olympians (3-1-1) came into the contest having not scored first in any of their previous four games this season.
They made sure another comeback wasn’t needed against the Indians (0-5-0).
A goal from Thor Huth with 31:46 left in the first half opened the scoring and gave Jim Thorpe a 1-0 lead. Leandro Ramirez followed less than 20 seconds later to make it 2-0.
Huth added his second goal with 7:16 to play before the intermission to make it 3-0.
“We’re not really used to going up (early),” said Huth. “We’re used to going down (early) because we start off slow. But today, because the last game we started off slow, we decided we wanted to play hard from the start and it helped out a lot, and allowed us to have an easier game.”
The Indians broke through early in the second half, with Logan Lucas finding the back of the net at the 34:43 mark.
But Thorpe’s Jack Morris answered just past the midpoint of the second half with a goal to push the advantage to 4-1.
“Our plan was to come out strong and not come out flat-footed,” said Morris. “We wanted to try to get an early goal, and try to score as many goals as possible, so we can build on that throughout the next game.
“I feel very comfortable. I feel like the group of kids we have right now and next year, we have a lot of skill, and as long as we play as a team, I don’t think there’s really any teams that we can’t get past.”
With a roster that features several underclassmen, including just three seniors in the starting lineup against Jim Thorpe, Lehighton is working to build continuity and consistency on offense.
“I thought it was a respectable second half for us,” said Indians’ head coach Dave Yob. “We’re a work in progress. We have nine freshmen on the team this year ... and it’s a learning process for them.”
And it’s one that’s ongoing, with Yob using the first half deficit as a teaching moment.
“I think we showed our resiliency, and we played with a lot of heart in the second half,” he said. “We challenged them a little bit at halftime. And I’m pleased with the second half. It’s something for us to build on.”
BATTLING BACK ... In their most recent match, a 3-2 win over Schuylkill Haven, Alex Putt’s second half score snapped a tie and helped the Olympians’ secure a win. The rally came after Chris Condly and Morris scored to erase a 1-0 deficit. Thorpe trailed 1-0 against Pottsville in its second match of the season before scoring four unanswered goals to secure the win. Huth’s second half goal produced a 1-1 tie in the season opener against Pen Argyl. “It makes us realize that even if we’re behind and there’s not much time left, we can still put in a goal and make it a win or a tie if we need to,” said Huth.
TAKE A BREAK ... Jim Thorpe does not play again until Saturday, when it hosts a Pine Grove (4-1) team that currently sits atop the District 11 Class 2A Power Ratings. “We’ve got a lot of stuff we can work on this week. Everybody can get healthy and rested. We played a ton of games this last week-and-a-half, so hopefully everybody will be healthy and we’ll be good to go for Saturday,” said Dudak.
SCORING ADVANTAGE ... The Olympians have outscored their first five opponents, 12-6.