DuBOIS — The DuBois boys soccer team program is off the best start during the tenure of veteran coach Matt Erickson, and the Beavers continued that run Thursday with a 3-0 shutout of Punxsutawney at the middle school field.
DuBois got the lone goal it needed just under eight minutes in when senior Nico McDonald threaded a shot through three Chuck defenders and past goalkeeper Jacob Ebel, who was screened on the play.
McDonald added a second just past the midway point of the half before setting up teammate Nolan Bussell in the second half for the Beavers’ third goal. The score came six minutes before the game was delayed by thunder.
When the game resumed, heavy rains started to fall and persisted through the final 16-plus minutes of the game as the Beavers finished off their second shutout of the season and fourth win in as many games.
Junior Austin Mortimer started in net for DuBois as Jordan Meinert — who played keeper in the first three games — was forced to play on defense after suffering a finger injury in practice.
And, Mortimer needed to make just three saves to record the shutout. The Beavers have allowed just two goals in the opening four games of the season.
“All of our games so far have been on turf, and this was only the third time we’ve been on grass at all so far,” said Erickson. “Our touches weren’t nearly as good as the should have been or as good as they have been (in first three games).
“I think once we get use to it (grass) again, we’ll be much better. It’s hard transitioning back and forth from turf to grass all the time. We tried to move the ball well, our passes just weren’t as good as they could have been.
“But, we’re getting more goal scoring than we’ve had in previous year already. And, it’s nice that it’s not all coming from one person and we’re just not looking for one person to school goals.”
Erickson also was very played pleased with the defense and how Mortimer stepped in for Meinert.
“Anything that has been thrown at our defense so far, they have handled easily,” he said. “Today with our goalkeeper hurt, they stepped up for us. And, Austin is a good keeper too. He and Meinert split time in goal in JV last year, and I’m comfortable with either one in goal and comfortable with both on defense.”
DuBois wasted little time applying the pressure to Ebel in net as Bussell made a strong run into the box off the opening whistle. Ebel made a nide stop on Bussell’s hard shot, deflecting it out of play for a corner kick.
The Beavers nearly converted the corner opportunity, but senior Jordan Meinert headed a shot just over top the Punxsy net.
Punxsy recorded its first shot just under the five-minute mark, but Vincent Gigliotti’s attempt was just wide of the right post.
DuBois then seized control of the action over the next seven minutes.
McDonald gave the Beavers the 1-0 lead with his precision shot at the 7:55 mark after he tracked down a loose ball in the box after a Punxsy defender blocked an initial shot.
The Beavers tried to extend the lead over the next three minutes, but Ebel turned away shots by Lane Shaffer and McDonald to keep it a 1-0 contest.
The momentum then turned in Punxsy’s favor for a stretch. Garrett Eddy had a shot stopped by Mortimer, while another Chuck redirected a shot just wide of the near post 18:30 into the game.
That proved to be Punxsy’s last real scoring chance in the half as DuBois turned the momentum back in its favor over the final 20 minutes.
A nice hustle play by Nick Graeca helped extend DuBois’ lead in the 21st minute. The Beaver beat Andrew Young to a long ball near the end line in the Chucks’ defensive box.
Graeca cutback with the ball against Young and promptly dished off to McDonald, who blasted a shot into far corner of the net to make it 2-0 Beavers.
DuBois had its chance to increase that lead over the last 10 minutes of the half, but Ebel stopped a shot by Nick Gribik, while Graeca and Luke Sprankle each had efforts go just wide.
Punxsy came out strong to open the second half and controlled the action for the first 16 minutes. Unfortunately for the Chucks, they had nothing to show for it as Gigliotti and Zach Reitz each had shots go wide.
DuBois then took the wind out the Chucks’ sails shortly after Reitz’s miss as it scored on first real push up the field in the second half. McDonald made a nice through ball into the Punxsy box, and Bussell ran it down from the left wing and fired home a shot to make it 3-0 at the 57:47 mark.
Play was halted just under six minutes later with 16:37 remaining. When action resumed, both teams created a couple scoring chances despite the rainy conditions. However, neither side could capitalize as DuBois went to win 3-0.
DuBois (4-0) is back in action Tuesday at Hollidaysburg.