DuBOIS — Playing for the second straight day —and third time in four days — the DuBois boys soccer got off to a slow start Tuesday evening against Elk County Catholic and took some time to find their legs.
Once that happened, the Beavers seized control of the game and slowly pulled away from the Crusaders for a 4-1 victory on the turf field at the high school.
DuBois (5-3) missed a golden opportunity to grab a 1-0 lead in the opening minute when Nicholas Graeca fired a shot towards an open net, only to have an ECC defender block the ball out of harms way.
After that missed opportunities, shots came at a premium for both sides in the opening 25 minutes before ECC was the team that finally cracked the scoreboard on a goal by Regis Wortman with 13:47 left in the half.
Wortman’s score seemed to wake up the Beavers, who answered right back on a goal by Graeca just 34 seconds later to knot things up. DuBois kept the pressure on from there the remainder of the half and took 2-1 lead into the break thanks to a goal by senior Robert Martini with 9:01 left on the clock.
Martini’s goal proved to be the the game-winner, with Beavers Alex Gribik and Nolan Bussell finding the back of the net in the second half to give DuBois a comfortable three-goal victory.
The victory comes on the heels of a tough 1-0 setback at Altoona Monday night.
“This was our third game in four days, and the second week in a row we’ve had a Monday-Tuesday game,” said DuBois coach Matt Erickson. “Last night’s (Monday) game in Altoona was a tough, fast-paced game, and we were a little tired coming into this one.
“We woke a little after ECC scored, and sometimes it takes that quick kick to get is moving unfortunately. But, any game this year where we’ve been gotten a goal behind, we’ve hustled and worked hard to get that goal back. We got it back, plus three more tonight.
“We had four different goal scorers tonight, and they were all good goals. We’ve gotten away from that feelnig where we have one (main) goal scorer on the field, and now everyone realizes we have six good goal scorers (on offense) plus subs who came come in and score too.”
Erickson also said getting the chance to play right away after the tough loss at Altoona may have been the best thing for his squad.
“It was nice to get right back out and play after the loss,” he said. “The goal we gave up last night wasn’t a great goal — it just kind of squeaked in past our goalkeeper. Other than that, our defense has been playing really tough.
“They shut down what could have been four or five other goals (at Altoona), and it was the same thing tonight. They shut down a bunch of opportunities that ECC definitely could have scored on.”
After ECC’s defense turned away Graeca’s shot in the opening minute, the team’s battled largely in the midfield over the next seven minutes.
Elk County had the next scoring chance, but Erick Mader fired a shot wide of the net just before the 8-minute mark. DuBois pushed the ball right up the play on the goalkick, and Gribik nearly made it 1-0.
With a defender draped all over him, Gribik punched a shot from the middle of the ECC box over keeper Alex O’Neill. However, it bounced off the crossbar and the game remained scoreless.
Bussell had a hard shot from the right side roll through the ECC goal in the 18th minute.
The Crusaders flipped the field just past the 25-minute mark and had a shot go just high. Moments later DuBos keeper Shadi Hassan was forced to make a diving save on a shot by Mader.
Elk County kept possession of the ball after the big save, Wortman was the beneficiary as he blasted home a shot at the 26:13 mark.
The Crusaders excitement — and lead — was short-lived though, as DuBois countered as soon as play resumed. The Beavers pushed the ball down the left side before Graeca redirected home a cross to even the score just 34 seconds later.
Both teams had scoring chances over the final eight minutes of the half. However, O’Neill made two saves for ECC, while Hassan recorded one save on the other end. Wortman also had a lonfg direct kick sail over top the Beavers’ net in the final minute of the half.
Hassan and O’Neill were both tested early in the second half, stopping shots by Mader and Gribik, respectively, in the first three minutes. O’Neill finished with six saves, while Hassan had five.
After that, the defenses took control again, with both sides seeing their shot attempts limited for most of the second half.
Each team had shots be just off the mark, while O’Neill made a nice save on a shot by Bussell off a Beaver corner kick.
DuBois finally broke through in the second half when Gribik took a pass from Graeca and blasted a shot past O’Neill to make it a 3-1 game with 11:43 to play.
Elk County tried to answer back less than a minute later, but Mader had a hard shot corralled by Hassan. That proved to be ECC’s last real scoring threat on the night.
Bussell sealed the Beavers’ victory when took a pass from Julian Minns and fired a shot into the back of the net from over 25 yards out.
DuBois is back in action Saturday morning at home against Bradford.