Mercer County put the pressure on Boyle County early, and the Titans got their season off to a strong start Thursday, shutting out the Rebels 6-0 at Rebel Stadium.
Matthew Gammon and Daniel Steele scored twice and Mason Angel and Landon Souder both had a goal for the Titans, who cruised in coach Matt Vogel’s debut.
“We really wanted to, especially right off the bat, come out and be the aggressor. Try and dictate the pace of the game as much as we can. And I thought we did a very good job of that,”¿Vogel said. “We had some scrimmages and we didn’t come out as strong as I would have liked. I think tonight we were able to do that.
“The guys that came in kept that up. I was pleased. Every person I put in was giving effort, doing what I asked.”
Boyle coach Cris McMann, whose team lost to Mercer 7-2 in last year’s 29th District semifinals, was disappointed the Rebels did not match Mercer’s intensity of play.
“I think our problem is, I think we’re afraid of the ball, we’re too timid,” he said. “We don’t want to go get the ball. Our passing was horrible tonight. I think we passed it to the other team more than we passed it to ourselves. It’s hard to win any game when you’re playing like that, but especially when you’re playing against a good team. I think my guys were a little bit nervous. They knew what was coming.”
Mercer dominated possession and struck for three first-half goals.
Steele scored when he caught up to a long pass from Souder and lofted a shot over Boyle keeper Bailey Snow for a 1-0 lead with 6 minutes, 14 seconds gone in the game.
Seven minutes later, Gammon made it 2-0 when he also took a long pass and scored. It stayed that way until Steele scored again with 11:39 left in the half, fighting off two Boyle defenders and rolling a low shot into the left side of the goal to make it a 3-0 contest at the half.
Vogel was pleased how his team possessed the ball, and kept Boyle from ever getting anything going on offense, outshooting the Rebels 18-3 and holding a 10-2 edge in corner kicks.
“If we lose it, we try to win it back as quickly as we can. Don’t let them get any kind of shape. But when we have the ball, we want to keep it and be patient and find opportunities and when we can go for it, when we can swing it,” he said. “I thought right off the bat, we were aggressive defensively, and when we had it we possessed it, knocked it around and were patient with it.”
Souder scored less than two minutes into the second half, then Angel and Gammon added goals in the final 29 minutes of the match to close out the Titans’ scoring. Corey Brown had two assists and Gammon also had an assist.
McMann knows there is still a lot of work for the Rebels (0-2), who are still trying to fit all the right pieces together.
“We’ve got to work on winning balls out of the air. We’re still trying to figure out the right spot for everybody, too. We moved Tristen (Morrow) from forward to sweeper because we weren’t getting any goals, and he ended up doing pretty well back there,”¿McMann said. “We’ve got two freshmen out top, Evan (McMann) and James (Warriner) that created more scoring opportunities than I think we’ve had in both games so far.
“So we’re still working on figuring out who goes where, what’s the best combination.”