GREENTOWN — Eastern’s shots whistled high, wide, or straight to Taylor goalie Hunter Stephens for 20 minutes of largely one-way traffic Tuesday night in the teams’ Mid-Indiana Conference boys soccer game.
Then, midway through the first half, Eastern finally found its accuracy and turned on the gas, surging to an 8-1 victory.
“They played with a lot of intensity and they played hard,” Eastern coach John VanMatre said.
Eastern got a hat trick from Darren Bellow, two strikes each from Cole Walker and Ben Cole, and a goal from Nate Everett in moving to 6-2 overall and 2-0 in the MIC. Taylor fell to 1-8, 0-4 in the MIC.
“You always worry that they’re going to play to the level of their competition, and they didn’t. I was proud of that,” VanMatre said.
The Comets finally broke through in the 20th minute when a good pass from Dillon Ryan put Lucas VanMatre through on goal on the left side. His shot was saved by Stephens, but Bellow was fastest to the rebound and scored from deep in the 18-yard box. A minute later, Walker dribbled across the Taylor defense and scored to the far post to double the margin.
Bellow sliced through the Titan defense and scored again in the 26th minute to give the Comets a firm grip on the game. Taylor pulled a goal back in the final minute of the half when Allen Bottomley ripped up the right side and took aim from a tight angle. Eastern goalie Delon Tuggle got fingertips to it but couldn’t keep it out. The halftime score was 3-1 Comets.
Eastern netted five more in the second half in an 18-minute flurry against a dispirited Taylor squad that has only two upperclassmen on the roster.
“We’ve just got to stand up more,” Taylor coach Mike Shane said of his squad’s one-on-one defending. “We don’t pressure the ball the way we should. We’re still learning.