Oak Hill’s Colby Leighton (22) fights for possession of the ball between Monmouth’s Cody Michaud, left, and Hayden Fletcher during the Mustangs’ win in Wales on Wednesday. (Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal)Monmouth goalie Connor Davies leaps above a crowd to make a save during the Mustangs’ win over Oak Hill in Wales on Wednesday. (Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal)
WALES — A dominant first-half attack netted just one goal for Monmouth. The first 80 seconds of the first half tested that narrow lead, before the Mustangs got some much-needed breathing room.
Monmouth goalie Connor Davies made a jumping save a minute into the second half, then his long punt flipped the field before the ball found the foot of Hayden Fletcher, who scored 80 seconds in for a two-goal lead that helped propel the Mustangs to a 3-0 victory over Oak Hill in an MVC boys’ soccer game on Wednesday.
“That was huge, because every save (Connor) makes it brings his confidence up,” Monmouth senior captain Corey Armstrong said. “And then that counter attack where we had with that punt just gave us an edge to win.”
The Mustangs (4-2) took the lead just over nine minutes into the game when Fletcher’s low shot from outside the box deflected off the leg of a Raiders (3-1) defender and to the feet of Cody Michaud, who beat Oak Hill goalie Cole Whitten with an open shot.
“It was nerve-wracking in the beginning because we knew coming in that they were going to be a good team,” Armstrong said. “But as soon as we got that first goal it kind of gave us an edge to work harder and just possess the ball.”
Monmouth did a lot possessing the ball, which led to an 8-1 advantage in first-half shots on goal, but only Michaud could get one of those shots in.
“It was a game of midfield. I mean, we had a lot of chances, but they didn’t give us real good looks,” Monmouth coach Joe Fletcher said. “I give them credit. Their goalie played well, and they did a good job of keeping their shape and balance.”
Caleb Leighton’s high shot on Davies in the first minute of the second half was just the second of the game for the Raiders, who weren’t able to create shots out of their numerous counter attacks.
“They were quick to double-team a lot of my front guys,” Oak Hill coach Bill Worth said. “A lot of my front guys, as soon as they beat the first person there was somebody else right there.”
The Mustangs only made scoring more difficult after the second goal, switching from a 3-4-3 formation to a more-defensive 4-4-2, and as Worth said “they packed it in.”
“We just couldn’t get the ball free,” Worth added.
Gabe Martin made it 3-0 in the 17th minute of the second half, sending a shot from the right side off an Oak Hill defender and in.
“I saw Nate Ashton on the far side, and I figured I’d just try and go for goal, and even if (the defender) wasn’t there I think it would have been in,” Martin said.
The Raiders had a solid chance to respond less than three minutes later, when Leighton’s free kick led to Riley Worth kicking the ball up and over his head from the left of the goal and into a scrum. But Davies made a scrambling save on the ground to preserve his shutout.
“We certainly always stress keep the ball on the ground, and this would have been one of those times where a nice, low shot would have been helpful,” Worth said.
Davies, the Mustangs’ backup who Fletcher said is “a work in progress” but has “improved a lot,” made four saves. Whitten finished with 14 saves on 17 shots against.
Monmouth’s Cody Michaud (15) takes a shot while Oak Hill defender Adam Lapointe (10) and goalie Cole Whitten await the shot during the Mustangs’ win in Wales on Wednesday. (Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal)Monmouth’s Cody Michaud (15) lunges to take possession away from Oak Hill’s Adam Lapointe during the Mustangs’ win in Wales on Wednesday. (Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal)Oak Hill’s Brady Bangs, right, takes a shot ahead of Monmouth’s Corey Armstrong, left, and Ed Zuis during the Mustangs’ win in Wales on Wednesday. (Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal)