MURRAY — A hat trick and a shutout marked the official start to the Murray High Tigers soccer season as they defeated Lyon County 6-0 last night behind Charles Pemwell’s three goals.
It was a game so one-sided that the ball rarely crossed midfield and head coach Jared Rosa was comfortable enough to take a quick walk to his truck for keys to turn on the lights late in the first half with his team up 4-0.
The game started a few minutes early because the junior varsity game was postponed due to extreme heat and the thought process was to get the varsity game finished in time to play a shortened JV game afterward. Their game with two 20 minute halves ended in a 0-0 tie.
At the time of kickoff, the heat index was around 102 degrees according to the Murray High trainer Lance Harper. The hot night led to a hot start for the Tigers who scored their first goal with 20 minutes left to play in the first half.
“In the first half we had a lot of good stuff going forward and we really sorted some things out and pushed real hard there at the beginning for the first 15-20 minutes,” Rosa said. “It was all really good stuff, and then it looked like we took a break.”
It was Pemwell who opened up the scoring, his first of three, with a left-footed strike just inside the 18-yard box.
“We came out pretty strong off two preseason games,” Pemwell said. “We tied 1-1 against Paducah Tilghman and beat Trig 6-0 so we felt pretty confident and we came out in the first 15 minutes with good chemistry, then we started to slow down, I guess the heat was getting to us, and we started slowing down and started playing with the ball and dribbling a lot. We broke down, I mean, we still put some goals in the net nevertheless, but we broke down and it wasn’t good for our game.”
Tomas Ferreyra was the next to score in the first half making it 2-0. Then, Pemwell scored his second on a set piece off a corner kick to make it 3-0. The final goal of the first half came from Trevor Harrison and the Tigers took a commanding 4-0 lead to halftime.
Through most of the first half, the defense didn’t have to work too hard as the offense controlled the pace and the ball for a majority of the time, however when the defense had to make a play they were ready and waiting in the perfect position.
“We’ve worked quite a bit on defensive positioning from the end of dead period,” Rosa said. “So what we did is we took them to Evansville and that’s kind of what I told the coaches up there to work on and we’ve worked some things out positionally and tactically where to be in certain situations and I don’t necessarily push a high line, but it’s more about what you’re doing without the ball.”
“Our defense is one of our main aspects of our team,” Pemwell said. “We work a lot on that. We really love our defense because they work for us the whole game, they never slow down, play really physical, and they just never quit. We love to see it out of them.”
Coach Rosa admitted that the heat index might have played a bit of a role in the play of his guys as the first half wore on, but said they are in great shape and should be able to handle the heat.
“I know it’s tough coming out in the first game and you’ve got your adrenaline going and you’re going to use it all in the first 10-15 minutes and be sucking wind and trying to recover a little,” Rosa said. “But, regardless, we’ve put in the minutes in the preseason. We’ve done all of the running and all of the conditioning. We were ready, just mentally we’ve got to fix some things.”
The second half the Tigers had opportunity after opportunity but couldn’t capitalize until there were eight minutes left in the game. That’s when Harrison scored his second of the night.
“We regrouped in the second half,” Rosa said. “I tried a few different things positionally and it kind of threw them off I guess. Then we sorted some things out and put a couple more in late in the second once we went back to our normal formation.”
During the game, the Tigers were excellent with ball control and short, smart passes. Rosa said that’s been a big focus for quite some time.
“That’s our strategy and that’s a tactic we’ve tried to drill in, even from two or three years ago,” Rosa said. “Hopefully it’s coming to fruition a little bit this year and they’re really starting to look like a team.”
Smooth passing led to a late opportunity for Pemwell and he converted with just under a minute to play to earn the hat trick. He said that coming into the game he wanted to put the rest of the district on notice.
“It was big,” Pemwell said. “Coming into this game I really wanted to set a mark for the district because everyone looks at us like we lost Zak (Mathis) and Nick (Bokeno), our two big scorers and assisters and coming back we just wanted to show that we’re still a really good team and we are competitors and we’re going to show out in this district.”
It came as no surprise to Rosa because that’s what he expected out of his center midfielder this year.
“I expect him to be an offensive threat going forward,” Rosa said. “I expect us to really work together this year. We can’t just be a one-man team. We’re going to have to not play long ball. We have to be able to work it out mentally so we can all go together, like five or six of us at a time.”
With the 6-0 win, there were still things that Rosa said he’d like to see cleaned up but he was pleased with the way the guys played.
“I’m proud of the effort. I’m not going to knock any of the work ethic or any of the hustle,” Rosa said. “It’s all there. We just have to mentally sort some things out in our head going forward, because we have to turn these moments of good stuff into more like four or five minutes of good stuff.”