CINCINNATUS — On Monday afternoon, the McGraw Eagles became the latest unfortunate souls to be fed to the Lions — the Cincinnatus Lions, that is.
The Lions improved to 4-0 with a five-goal second-half outburst to stretch a slim 2-1 halftime lead into a 7-1 shellacking at Fireman’s Field.
Cason Stafford registered an astonishing four goals and three assists, while Scott Schuyler added two goals and two assists and Canden Stafford added a goal.
Cason scored the first goal on a header off a corner kick by Dominick Landers, and Schuyler scored the second goal on another header past a leaping swat attempt by Eagles goalie Nolan Knickerbocker (10 saves).
But in the 27th minute, Jackson Card cut the Cincy lead to one after avoiding a sliding tackle and leaving two defenders in the dust to beat Lions goalie Kooper Vosburg.
Many teams might feel good about a 2-1 halftime lead, but Lions head coach Gordon Brown wanted more.
“The first half wasn’t a perfect effort,” Brown said. “I had a guy marking up on Card, who’s an outstanding player, by the way, one of the best players in the league and one of the best in the state … he got free on us. When it got to 2-1, it makes it a game. Kids work harder when it’s a close game, so I told my boys at halftime we need to put three goals in immediately and put them out of the game.”
The Lions got the message, and in the 45th minute, Cason headed in a rebound off Knickerbocker to extend the lead to 3-1 and kept the offense going throughout the second half, taking advantage of set pieces and open field situations alike.
The Lions have outscored their first four opponents 30-3, and yet their performance to this point in the season is absent of some of the caveats that come with high-scoring teams.
For one thing, they haven’t sacrificed defense to get these eye-popping goal totals. They shut out Stockbridge Valley and Norwich and held Dryden to two goals. And they’re playing this stout defense with two of their backs being an eighth grader, Koda Temple, and a freshman, Jack Stafford.
“They play like sophomores right now,” Brown said. “In another two months, maybe they’ll be playing like juniors and they’ll be dangerous.”
The Lions haven’t been playing bad teams, either. Dryden is a perennial contender for the IAC title. Cincy is Stockbridge Valley’s only loss thus far. And McGraw was coming off a second-place finish at the DeRuyter Booster Club Blast Off Tournament where they beat Cortland, 2-1, on Friday and lost a high-scoring but competitive match to DeRuyter, 5-3.
Ultimately, this is what happens when a team has a glut of scoring options – six of them, says Brown.
“I’ve got six kids who can score goals whenever we need them,” Brown said. “Most teams only have one or two. I can switch players around and find a weakness on the field. I can switch them to that spot and they can take over the game that way.”
The Lions are back in action at 4:30 p.m. today when they host Otselic Valley. The Eagles (2-3) are also in action at home at 4:30 p.m. today when they face Stockbridge Valley.
Dryden 14, Whiteney Point 0
The Lions put up a touchdown in each half and did not allow Whitney Point to attempt a shot.
Ally Deeley had four goals and two assists, McKenna Crocker had four goals and an assist, Laci Prignon had a hat trick, Walaa Alshoffe had a brace, Nicole Morrow had a goal and an assist and Lauren Guilini, Emma Lobdell and Claudia Bachner each had an assist.
DeRuyter 4, Madison 0
Keely Worlock and Maddy Pforter each had a goal and an assist and Shakiah Glisson and Kelsey Brown each had a goal as the Rockets blanked Madison.
Marcellus 2, Homer 0
Jadyn Baker’s brace was enough to get Marcellus past the combined goalkeeping effort of Cat Apker (12 saves) and Alex Kellaway (four saves).
Homer 6, Jordan-Elbridge 1
The Trojans got back into the win column thanks to a tough three-set doubles victory by Molly Gallagher and Georgia Wallis and a straight-sets singles victory by Eila Spanbauer.
Fulton 204, Cortland 218
Andrew Partigianoni’s 35 was the top score of the match, but he was the only medalist for the Purple Tigers as Fulton took the next five spots to secure the win.