ST. MARYS – Elida gave up its first goal of the year.
But in the end, that meant nothing.
Elida dominated the second half and posted a 2-1 boys soccer victory over St. Marys on Thursday night at St. Marys Intermediate School.
Elida kept its perfect record intact at 8-0, 5-0 (15 points) in the Western Buckeye League. St. Marys is 3-2-1, 2-2-1 in the WBL.
The match was tied at 1 at halftime.
With 28:56 to go, Joe Davis sent a cross into the heart of the box from the left corner. Noah Davis one-timed a shot home and it was 2-1.
“I saw it coming in and I saw I wasn’t going to be able to take a touch,” Noah Davis said. “I just one-timed it.’’
Cody Gay scored the first Elida goal.
Austin Wilker scored for St. Marys.
In the first half, St. Marys had the edge in shots (8-2) and offensive surges.
Elida looked recharged after the break and outshot St. Marys 8-2 in the second half.
Overall, both teams had 10 shots. Elida had five corner kicks, while St. Marys had one.
“When you come to St. Marys they play with a lot of emotion and you have to match that,” Elida coach Tom Thomas said. “We didn’t do that in the first half. … We came out and played well in the second half. We structured ourselves in the second half to keep the center midfield because we lost it in the first half.’’
Elida goalkeeper Caleb Jones had seven saves. St. Marys goalkeeper Henry Spencer had five saves.
Elida’s first goal came off a free kick by Riley Bartels from 22-yards out.
Elida’s first team all-WBL midfielder Jake Taylor sprinted toward the St. Marys wall prior to the kick. Taylor then took a quick turn behind the wall and Bartels fed him the ball in the box.
Taylor hit an open Gay at the left post and Gay banged it home with 37:16 left in the first half.
“We ran a good set piece and we finished like we should,” Thomas said.
Taylor said, “I saw the little gap opening behind the wall. And it was good hustle by Cody (Gay).’’
St. Marys tied the match at 1 when Ethan Rose hit Wilker on the right 12-yards out. The Elida goalie made a play for the ball, but couldn’t gobble it up.
Wilker scored with 35:13 to go in the first half.
That marked the first goal Elida has yielded this season after seven straight shutouts.
Thomas said, “I’m glad that monkey’s off our back. That definitely took a little bit of wind out of our sails.’’
Elida’s midfield took control in the second half by winning the loose balls and starting scoring surges at the other end.
“I think it was the intensity (in the second half),” Elida’s Noah Davis said. “We tried to win every 50-50 ball in the second half. In the first half we didn’t match their intensity.’’
Taylor said, “In the first half we got out of a position a little bit. … But after No. 2 (Wilker) got their first goal, we had to re-adjust. We had to settle in, keep possession and stay calm.’’
Elida’s defense, with Bartels in the back, turned away several St. Marys chances.
Elida defender Keagan Layman was given the game ball for holding Wilker in check in the second half.
The match was plenty physical, especially in the second half.
“There’s a lot of grit,” Thomas said. “You’ve got to work your butt off, and hopefully, you can come out on the right end.’’
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.