Central's boys soccer team had used its depth and experience to get off to a 15-0 start this season.
Missing four players due to tests and prior engagements, the Tigers' bench was on display Saturday morning in a 5-0 rout of Springfield Kickapoo at Central High School. The win was one of three in a tournament sweep for the Tigers this weekend.
Central won its second game Saturday afternoon, a 2-0 victory over Springfield Glendale to improve to 17-0. Central outscored its opponents 8-0 over the tournament.
On the field only 13 hours after defeating Columbia Hickman 1-0 in the first of a three-game, two-day tournament, Central looked in control right from the start against Kickapoo. Central forward Heath Orr scored five minutes into the game on an assist from Jordan Duncan.
"The big stat is always to score the first goal of the game and hold on from there," Orr said.
For the first 20 minutes of the game Central spent almost the entire time in Kickapoo's half of the field. The Chiefs could do little more in the first half than clear the ball out of their end.
After a couple of saves from the Chiefs' goalie and a couple of near misses, Calen Wills put away a breakaway for a 2-0 lead. Grant Hengst sent a long ball over the defense and let Wills outrun the defenders.
"We usually like to score early and have a fast start, and we did that again today," Orr said.
Orr got behind the defender shortly after Wills' goal and chipped it over the goalie and off the cross bar. Duncan was there for the putback to give Central a commanding 3-0 lead.
With the early lead Central coach Tom Doyle was able to empty his bench and get all of his players into the action. One of those bench players, junior Jackson Bahn, scored Central's fourth goal of the half on a cross from Ryan Ponder.
Central defender Aaron Hutsell said having such an experienced starting lineup takes the pressure off the bench.
"To start off the season and have 13 seniors is always a positive," he said.
In the second half Central even got to spell starting goalie Tony Leuckel who was rarely tested in the first half. Backup Jordan Young played about 15 minutes of the second half before Leuckel came in to finish off the shutout.
Trey Willis finished the scoring for the Tigers with a late goal off an Orr rebound. Willis had been denied on several point-blank shots in the first half.
"It was a good win for us," Doyle said.
Despite entering the week undefeated, Central actually dropped in the Missouri Soccer Coaches poll. The Tigers dropped a spot from seventh to eighth.
Doyle said wins over teams like Columbia Hickman and Kickapoo may start changing some people's minds.
"I guess we have to get some respect from another part of the state," he said.
Besides extending its winning streak to 16 games, Central's opener Saturday was important because it was the first game played at its home field.
Hutsell said he was not so optimistic about playing on the new field before the game.
"Actually I was kind of worried because our field hadn't been working out for us," he said.
Central's JV (9-2-1) won 5-1.
In the afternoon game, Central and Glendale were scoreless at half and the game remained that way until Orr scored midway through the second half. Orr's second goal three minutes later gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead.
Aaron Bornstein, who missed the morning contest, assisted on both goals. Leuckel posted his fourth straight shutout.
Notre Dame goes 1-2
Notre Dame finished the tournament 1-2 after splitting its two games Saturday.
The Bulldogs fell to Columbia Hickman 2-1 in Saturday's opener. Mark Unterreiner scored Notre Dame's goal on an assist from Jacob Dufek.
Will Lindman and Blake Urhahn scored goals for Notre Dame (9-8-1) in its second game of the day to shut out Springfield Kickapoo 2-0.
"I really thought we played well all weekend," Notre Dame coach Brad Wittenborn said.
Elliot Vance and Blake Fisher had assists. Brendan McMeel was in goal for Notre Dame.
Notre Dame's JV team remained undefeated with a win and a tie. The Bulldogs (9-0-4) tied Hickman 1-1 on a goal from Zach Catriola, assisted by Jack Wedemeier.
Against Kickapoo Brett Heischmidt and Austin Gelsheimer scored to give Notre Dame a 2-1 win. Abe Dirnberger had a pair of assists.
No wins for Jackson
Jackson finished 0-3 with a pair of losses Saturday.
The Indians (3-14) lost a nail-biter to Glendale in the morning 2-1. Stephen McKinney scored Jackson's goal in the first half as the Indians led 1-0.
"I thought we played a really good first half," Jackson coach Zach Walton said.
Glendale scored midway through the half to tie the game and scored with two minutes left to win. Jackson's JV lost 2-0.
The Indians fell 2-0 to Hickman as the Kewpies scored a goal in each half. Jackson's JV lost 1-0.