BY WILL WILLEMS
DOVER — Things couldn’t have started much worse for the Western Boone boys soccer team on Thursday afternoon when they hosted Tri-West on Senior Night.
Playing in the pouring rain, Tri-West scored twice in the opening minute and four times in the six minutes to put the Stars in a deep hole. While the Stars played much better after the sluggish start, it wasn’t enough in a 7-4 defeat.
“I told our guys that they might as well of been playing with their shoe laces tied together,” Western Boone head coach Lucas Dull said. “We weren’t ready. Everybody hesitated on every decision. I don’t know if they knew that Tri-West was the best team in the conference and they were going to come out strong and that scared us or what. Those first few minutes decided the game.”
Slow starts have plagued the Stars throughout the season, especially in big rival games the past couple of weeks.
Dull said that is something his team has to correct as they get ready for the sectional starting next week.
“I think it is a big focus thing,” Dull said. “We are playing a lot of young players and I think it easier for them to get some jitters, especially in a high-profile game. Our senior leadership needs to take those guys aside and let them know they deserve to be on the field with the other team and there is no reason to be nervous.”
After the slow start, the Stars started a comeback.
Daniel Collins scored in the 16th minute to make it 4-1, then seven minutes later Western Boone had a scoring chance cleared off the line.
Tri-West pushed the lead to 5-1 on a counter attack goal with 13:32 left in the half, but Collins scored a minute later and Ben Wheatley scored right before the half to make it 5-3 at the intermission.
“If we take away the first four minutes, we win this game,” Dull said. “Which means we can play with anybody the rest of the season. Tri-West was the state runner- up last season and they are good again this year. For 75 minutes, we played them back and forth and nobody dominated that game.”
Western Boone had a chance to make it a one-goal game twice in the first 15 minutes of the second half, but were denied. The Bruins capitalized on a chance with 22 minutes left in the game, and although Collins completed his hat trick with 15:44 to go, the Stars weren’t able to muster a serious comeback attempt in the final minutes.
The Bruins tacked on a late goal to provide the final margin.
Dull said the Bruins did a good job in the second half of making some defensive adjustments.
“In the second half both teams always know a little more about each other,” Dull said. “They had some time to pick out our play makers and stuck to them a little tighter. It made a difference, but we were still able to get some good looks.”
It was a tough senior night for the five Western Boone seniors — Collins, Oscar Burns, Dylan Steines, Andrew Knecht and Jordan Hoffman.
Dull said the group has been important to the Stars success.
“They have really been great,” Dull said. “I was honestly a little worried heading into the year about them stepping up into those leadership roles that we ask seniors to do. They have all stepped up and done what we have asked of them. They will be missed next year for sure.”
The Stars travel to Southmont on Thursday, then go to the Covington Invitational on Saturday.
Dull said the Stars have to clean up their play before the sectional starts Oct. 7.
“We have to find a way to get rid of those 10-15 minutes of poor play that we seem to have every game,” Dull said. “So many times, the goals we allow are in that time and decide the game. If we put together an 80-minute game, there is no reason we can’t beat anyone we are playing.”