By Robert Edmonds - firstname.lastname@example.org
WOODSTOCK -- The arsenal was full and Central used all of its weapons as the Falcons blew up, down, and through the Bison from Buffalo Gap in boys soccer action on Monday night.
From the opening minutes, it was apparent the Falcons were determined to not let the game get away. At times this season, Central has played well but failed to finish and complete its performance. This night was different, however, as the Falcons controlled the tempo in a dominant performance en route to a 7-1 victory.
"I am very pleased with how we played tonight," Central coach Ted Poor said. "We finally put together a complete game and we were able to finish. That is what we have been working on and our guys are learning to play as a team. There are no individuals on this team. It is a team effort."
Only 10 minutes had passed when the Falcons lit up the scoreboard. Justin Mauck-Hill took a pass inside the box and sent a bullet past Bison goalkeeper Justin Lambert to put his team ahead quickly.
The Falcons continued to pressure the Bison defense with aggressive play. Central used smooth passing and ball control to set the pace and all but shut down the Buffalo Gap offense. At 15:15, Central committed its lone mistake when the goalkeeper was caught out of position.
Bison sophomore Jamie Benbow launched a kick nearly 30 yards from the goal. The high-sailing kick went over Jordan Umstead's leaping attempt to make a stop and landed in the goal to even the score.
That proved to be the lone score for the Bison, however. Adding another score just before the half, Central took a 2-1 lead at intermission and looked to step up its play as the second half began.
"I preach defense first," Poor said. "That is what I have wanted to instill in this team, and we can get aggressive on counterattacks and so forth to create scoring opportunities."
Led by Michael Pierce, the Falcons did just that as Pierce scored three goals in an eight-minute span to blow the game open. At 34:02, Pierce scored the first goal streaking down the left side of the field.
Only 30 seconds later Pierce scored again, this time from the opposite side of the field as he made a cross-over move and hit the left corner of the goal to give his team a three-goal advantage.
"That was big for Michael [Pierce]," Poor said. "He has been struggling up to this point with only three goals coming into tonight. For him to do that, shows how hard he continues to work at getting better."
"It was my first hat trick, but I can't take complete credit for it," Pierce said. "There was a lot of beautiful passing going on out there and I was just able to flip the switch tonight and finish. I have been struggling, so this was big for me."
Pierce completed the hat trick when he scored on an open net when the goalkeeper was drawn out from the goal, but the Falcons weren't finished. They added two more goals before the final whistle as captain Taylor Cardwell and Josh Girouard each scored to set the final margin.
"Tonight, I think we were able to keep control by passing the ball around the way we did," Cardwell said. "We still have some work to do, but this is definitely a step in the right direction."
With the win, Central feels like it is starting to peak at the right time as the regular season draws to a close and postseason play is about to kick off.
"This win came at the exact right time for us," Pierce said. "We have been progressively getting better and we only have three games left. Our goal all along has been to get to regionals, and we just have to keep working. We have to be able to pass the ball and finish. Right now, there is no pressure.
"We just have to keep working."