By DOUG EADS, CJ Correspondent
There's no denying the Somerset Briar Jumper and Southwestern Warrior boy's soccer teams were headed in different directions going into their first matchup of the season last Saturday night at Somerset's Clara Morrow Field.
Steve Wallace's Somerset team was coming off impressive wins over South Laurel and Frankfort, while Southwestern had fallen at home to both Lincoln County and arch-rival Pulaski County.
And when all was said and done on Saturday, the trend for both clubs stayed relatively the same.
Somerset's Carlos Canella scored the first three goals of the contest in the first half, and the Briar Jumpers basically never looked back, downing the Warriors in impressive fashion by a final tally of 7-1.
"We want to play fast, fast, fast, and coming in tonight, I was really worried about this game," stated Wallace, after watching his team improve to 4-1-2 on the season.
"In the locker room before the game, I was looking at the faces of our guys and I just didn't think we were ready to play," added the SHS coach. "With Pedro (Herrera) out for Southwestern, I was afraid our guys was thinking this was going to be a cakewalk for us. I told our team before the game that Southwestern was going to play like it had nothing to lose, because they are not supposed to be able to play with us without Pedro, who is a kid I have much respect for and one of the top players in this part of the state. It was huge for us to get those first two goals in like the first couple of minutes of the game. That was just huge."
Canella gave Somerset all the pad it would need early, scoring all three of his goals in the opening half of play.
After his first three scores that extended Somerset's lead out to 3-0, teammate Austin Hill found the nets extending the lead out to 4-0 in favor of the purple and gold and the rout was on.
Southwestern's Annand Prabhu tallied his club's lone score of the night cutting the margin to 4-1 in favor of the Briar Jumpers, but a goal from Marcus Arntsen before the half gave Somerset a very comfortable, 5-1 cushion at the intermission.
"I knew it was going to be tough having to play this game without Pedro, and then we had another starter out as well, Israel Perron," lamented Southwestern head coach Sean McBride after the contest.
"I had two freshman in at defense at one point of the first half, and we've just got to learn to play with intensity for 80 minutes," added McBride. "In the second half, in the first 10 minutes we controlled the game. We got every ball in the air and we won every 50-50 ball, but we've got to do that for the entire game."
Somerset tacked on two more goals in the second half, with the final tally coming with just over five minutes left on the clock off the foot of Mosawe Amarkhail.
With the win, Somerset ran its record to 4-1-2 on the year, and is playing about as well as it can possibly play right now.
So coach Wallace, any fear that this team may be peaking just a little too soon?
"It is a concern," admitted Wallace. "After we played the way we played a little over a week ago at OBI (Oneida Baptist Institute) we needed a lift."
"I keep thinking way back about our 2001 team that went all the way to the Final Four," Wallace continued. "People don't realize that we started off the season that year 2-3. We played North Laurel -- a team that we were much better than -- and we played awful against them, and I came back at practice and really challenged that team, and they took off from there."
With the loss on Saturday at Somerset, it culminated an absolutely terrible week for Southwestern.
The Warriors lost all three games they played last week, being outscored by Lincoln County, Pulaski County, and Somerset by a whopping 19-2 margin.
And what's worse, Southwestern lost its best player — Pedro Herrera — for two games after a Red Card last week in the PC game.
For McBride, he says it's quite simple for his club -- forget about the week that was, and try to move forward from this point on in the season.
"It's taking a toll on me and the team — there's no denying that," stated McBride.
"We've got a game early next week again without those two starters, and then we go over to Pulaski County next Thursday," added McBride. "Hopefully we can bounce back and get out of this funk that we're in."
Southwestern will return to action this Thursday at Pulaski County, playing in a girl-boy doubleheader that begins at 6 p.m.
Somerset meanwhile will be on the road tonight, traveling to Anderson County to face the Bearcats.