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Peru sent packing from boys' soccer sectional play by Oak Hill

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AWAY: Peru defender Lucas Fritzman (13) moves the ball away from the penalty area during Monday night's IHSAA Boys' Soccer Class 2A Sectional No. 21 match against Oak Hill. The hosts had their fill of goals, scoring eight in the first half and recording three hat tricks as the Tigers did what they could to stem the tide in a 14-0 loss.
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TAGGED IN: Peru's Malachi Wiley collects a shot attempt during his stint in goal during Monday night's boys' sectional soccer match against Oak Hill. Ryan Jones started in goal while Jonah Huppenthal also spent a spell in-between the sticks during the 14-0 loss to the Golden Eagles.

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

MIER – It was a tough ask for Peru to go to the hosts of IHSAA Boys’ Soccer Class 2A Sectional No. 21 and get a win Monday night.

Oak Hill entered the match looking to reach at least the sectional final and the Tigers would be the perfect way to ease into the tournament as the Golden Eagles ran riot in a 14-0 win.

Peru head coach Caleb Bragg said the players put everything into the match and while they were always likely to be on the wrong end of the scoreline they enjoyed their final match together.

“We came out with a few small goals and we wanted to get a few goals on the board, though that didn’t happen,” Bragg said. “They came out, they gave their all and they had fun with it, which is what I want to see happen.

“It’s never fun losing but doing a few things different on the field and changing things up, they had a decent time. They left it all out here, which is what matters.”

As soon as the whistle for kickoff blew Oak Hill was on the attack with Gavin Holz spurning a good chance from close range in the opening two minutes and having what appeared to be the first goal of the match ruled out for offside.

The hosts would not be made to wait too long as six minutes in they took the lead after Dalian Leach fired a rising strike from the right channel that rifled into the top corner of the net.

Six minutes later it was 2-0 when Mark Sevier, following a succession of Tiger blocks, including of his first attempt, sent a lobbed effort over goalkeeper Ryan Jones and into the net.

The Golden Eagles were relentless with their pressure, occasionally pulling the ball back into their own half only to send forwards in on goal with space to run in to.

Sevier would eventually double his tally, using a touch to get a defender into the air before powering a shot through Jones’ hands for a 3-0 advantage midway through the opening half.

Three minutes later Gabe Overmyer was allowed to carry the ball down the right all the way to Jones in goal, slotting the ball under the keeper to make it 4-0.

A minute later, Oak Hill made it five when Leach lobbed in from 25-yards out and a little over 40 seconds later Overmyer buried a cross to make it six.

Overmyer turned provided a little over two minutes later, crossing in from the right for Leach, who took two touches that saw him shift the ball past Malachi Wiley, now in goal, and watch as the ball trickled in for the seventh goal of the half and the first of the three Golden Eagle hat tricks.

There was time for one more as Sevier completed his own hat trick inside the final five minutes, spinning off a defender before arrowing in a shot just inside Wiley’s right-hand post, to make it 8-0 at the intermission.

Bragg said the defense was beleaguered but still attempted to play the game rather than sit back and take every Oak Hill attack on the chin.

“The defense, and all the kids, are a great group,” Bragg said. “Everyone saw how much of a pounding that they took yet they tuned around, came out with their heads up and braced for the next wave.

“They didn’t wait on (Oak Hill); they met it and took it in stride. They’re a great bunch of kids who gave everything, which was great to see.”

The halftime break only brought a brief respite for the Tigers as the hosts were up and flying straight from the kickoff, needing only three minutes for Leach to cross in for Holz, who finally got on the scoresheet with a header cutting across Wiley.

Play settled down for the next 20 minutes as the home side liberally used their bench players though shots continued to rain in from all angles as Oak Hill went in search of more goals.

The scoreboard moved to 10 with 17 minutes to play when Luke Allgood-Hartman was on hand to clean up a shot that was spilled by Jonah Huppenthal, the latest Peru deputy in goal.

Grant Elzinga got on the scoresheet four minutes later with a hot shot that hit Huppenthal’s right-hand post but kicked into the goal.

It was an even dozen for the Golden Eagles inside the final 10 minutes after Jorge Gibson sent a powerful header into the back of the net from a Corey Griffin corner.

Holz made it a baker’s dozen with five minutes to play after being allowed to run the length of the left touchline before cutting in and tucking away.

One more goal came in with two minutes remaining after a scramble in the Peru goalmouth area saw several swings, misses and blocks before Griffin calmly slotted the ball home.

The Tigers finish the season 0-14 and 0-6 in TRC play and while the results didn’t always look good Bragg said the players began to show changes the coaching staff had in mind taking root.

“The way that we grew was changing our mentality, going into everything with a positive mind frame and leaving everything on the field,” Bragg said. “The coaches and I taught that the team was everything and seeing the guys come together, hanging out after the school, signing up for indoor together and doing things that weren’t just from 5:30-7:30 p.m. practice or matches, that culture is what we’ve been emphasizing.

“This team is a band of brothers and we can’t do it without each other. I really saw that come full swing.”

Bragg added the squad would get better from here if they were committed to improving between now and the start of the next season.

“Knowing that this is a transitional time, anytime you change coaches is going to be different,” Bragg said. “Going from an offensive team in 2018, which had a lot of great attacking players, to having more of our better players on defense is a transitional time where the kids need to lift each other up and get fired up to play in the offseason.

“We need to get our touches down, to be in the weight room and realize it’s not just an August to October season. It’s all year long that we need to be working on ourselves.”