RUSSIAVILLE — Western's boys soccer team snagged a 2-0 lead on Kokomo at halftime, then answered each of the Wildkats' rallies Monday night in a 4-2 victory over the visiting Wildkats.
Panther defensive midfielder Chris Root netted Western's goals in the opening 40 minutes, and Panther forward Mason May bagged two after halftime as Western improved to 2-0 on the season.
Western had the better of the chances in the first half. The breakthrough finally came in the 37th minute when Root converted a penalty. He doubled his tally with 31 seconds left in the half. Brady Crowell passed up from the backline to Chris Carter, who then found Root. Root stepped by a defender and hit the side netting from 16 yards out.
"We had several shots on frame [in the first half] and they were quality shots," Western coach Mike Roe said. "We really only had, in the first half, three or four shots that weren't a quality, high-percentage shot. Eventually, that's going to take its toll on the defense."
Kokomo scored eight minutes after halftime on a set piece. Jordan Eley's corner found an open Arland McIlrath, who thumped his header home. The rally didn't last however, as Western scored three minutes later when Jordan Roe fed May, who worked hard for his chance in the box against physical challenges from two Kat defenders to score and put the lead back up to 3-1.
"That's something we've worked on this year as far as making sure that we counter every score with a fast-paced, we're-going-right-back-at-your-goal [attitude]," Mike Roe said. "Those first five minutes are critical after a goal. A lot of times you can catch a team relatively flat, kind of relishing the moment."
The goal made Kokomo fight back from a two-goal deficit all over again.