MARATHON — It a battle of two young teams, the younger Cincinnatus Central boys hung in there for the first half, but simply ran out of steam while the Marathon Central boys turned up the heat.
The Olympians enjoyed a 1-0 lead at the break, but used two goals in the first three minutes of the second half to open the floodgates in a 6-0 non-league soccer win in a match-up of two former Interscholastic Athletic Conference rivals Tuesday.
“I told them the old Coach Stewart will be coming out and they aren’t going to like it,” Marathon coach Chip Stewart chuckled about his halftime speech that got his kids playing much better. “The kids are young. The intensity level is lacking. They still need to be more emotionally prepared to play a varsity level soccer game against a quality opponent. We really aren’t there yet.
“It is easy to play with some emotion under the lights when you had a little something special going on,” he added about last week’s win at Lansing. “We played yesterday, but didn’t have any emotion and still won. Today it was a little bit better. They are a young team and I think they did run out of gas.”
“We’re just a young team,” Cincinnatus coach Gordon Brown said of the defending Central Counties League champions. “We run for 60 minutes and that’s about it right now. That’s the bottom line. They are a bigger group and you see how small our roster is with just 16 kids.”
The Red Lions have four sophomores, one freshman and two eighth-graders on this roster so varsity experience is very limited.
“Chip is a great coach,” Brown said, as Marathon is the defending IAC North Small School champion. “He always puts a great team together. That was really the first time we really got behind this year and I did want to see how the guys would react. We didn’t react very well. Those two goals to start the second half really demoralized the defensive guys. We fell apart after that. We will get it together. You expect things like this when you are rebuilding. You fight through them and we’ll see what we do with the next game.”
WHILE MUCH OF THE play was in the midfield area in the first half, Marathon (5-1 overall) did build up some good runs and did get some shots off. Andrew Tillotson gave Marathon a 1-0 lead on a soft shot that eluded the screened Cincinnatus goalkeeper Jeffrey Rice with 7:04 left in the half. Rice made five first half saves while under pressure, but none of the shots were overly difficult to stop.
“Off my first touch, it was more of a volley that I hit,” Tillotson said of his goal. “I didn’t think I hit it that hard, but the goalie must have been blocked by one of his teammates or one of mine.
“I thought we played really well in the second half,” he added. “We had some work to do after the first half. Coach told us we needed to make better touches and that we needed to communicate better. We had to finish off our opportunities better.”
The best two chances for Cincinnatus (3-2) came when eighth-grader Nolan Rice got some pressure on Olympian goalkeeper Kenyon DePuy in the 11th minute and junior Connor Stafford sent a dangerous crossing pass into the box from the right wing. DePuy grabbed the ball both times to prevent a shot.
It was a different story in the second half. Marathon came out attacking right away, even earning a corner kick in the first 30 seconds. Cameron Neilson collected a ball in the pack and drove home a shot inside the right post with 38:51 left in the match for a 2-0 lead. Just over a minute later, Dakota Morrison found Neilson free again near the right post and slid the ball to him. Neilson scored from point blank as the advantage grew to 3-0.
With Tillotson now handling corner kicks in the second half, the Olympians were a threat to score. Darian Roberts headed a Tillotson kick from the left corner off the crossbar. Two minutes later, another Tillotson corner from the left side eventually deflected off a Cincinnatus defender and into the goal as the defender tried to clear the ball. The lead was now 4-0 with 30:10 remaining.
Adam Brandstadt scored on a header off a Tillotson pass with 26:49 to go and Roberts found the net with 23:47 left to close out the scoring.
WHILE IT SEEMS Stewart wasn’t pleased with his team’s effort, he was overall.
“I thought we played quality defense,” Stewart said. “We limited them getting good angles on their passes.
“We were opportunistic on some of our scoring chances and we finished those chances,” he continued. “Darian had a great pivot kick shot. Adam had a nice header. We did some things in the second half. We also got a lot of people some playing time that we won’t be able to do later in the season.”
Marathon’s defense allowed one non-threatening shot in the second half and held Cincinnatus to four total shots in the match. DePuy recorded two saves for the Olympians. Jeffrey Rice made five first half saves for Cincinnatus. Jaime Lopez played the final 25 minutes in goal for the Red Lions, allowing one goal and recording no saves as Marathon finished the match with 14 shots and 11 corner kicks.
Marathon will play its third game in as many days as the Olympians travel to Moravia this afternoon for a 4:30 IAC North Small School Division contest. Cincinnatus heads to DeRuyter this afternoon for a 4:30 CCL match.