Northeastern boys' soccer began its season on Wednesday night with a non-conference home game against the Gates County Red Barons.
The Eagles cruised to their first win of the season as they defeated Gates 9-0.
NHS scored four goals in the first half, with two coming within the first 12 minutes of the game.
“One of the things we wanted to do was to go ahead and just start getting shots,” Northeastern head coach Michael Ratzlaff said.
They did just that as the Eagles (1-0) managed more than 10 shots on goal in the first half.
Daniel Lamb, a captain and the only senior on the team, recorded Northeastern’s first goal of the season in the sixth minute of the game.
With a Simeon Hurdle throw-in to sophomore Rigoberto Molina from the left sideline, Molina passed the ball near the top of the penalty box for Lamb to have a clear shot to roll the ball into the right side of the net.
A few minutes later, Hurdle corner kicked from the right side, where junior Michael Carter got a touch and passed it to his left to get Brendan Byrum a shot and a goal to make it 2-0 early.
NHS continued its attack for much of the first half as it possessed the ball for the vast majority of the first 40 minutes, not allowing Gates (0-1) any opportunity for a single shot.
Red Barons goalkeeper Cody Higginbotham kept his team in the game, however, with several key saves.
It wasn’t until Carter, a captain, scored from up the middle at the top of the box in the 39th minute that the Eagles made it 3-0.
Soon after the ensuing kickoff, Hurdle, another junior captain, earned his first goal of the season for a 4-0 advantage.
“Our goal was just to bog down the middle of the pitch and make it difficult for (Gates) to get any passes through, make it difficult to get a pass to anyone in between our lines,” Ratzlaff said.
Gates finally managed to get a handful of shots off in the second half but it never could convert.
The only time the ball found the back of the net for the Red Barons was when Seth Fisher looked to have scored after a hard-hit set piece by Trent Hobbs from near midfield bounced off NHS goalie Christian Wolfen, but Fisher was ruled offside.
Northeastern, meanwhile, just kept adding on.
Lamb scored his second goal of the game for a 5-0 lead 16 minutes into the half.
Sophomore Wilson Wyser made it 6-0 later on and then Byrum worked his way to hat trick.
The junior forward scored his second and third goals almost within a minute of each other with under 10 minutes to go.
“Brendan, just with his speed, it’s difficult to stop him from getting one-on-one with the goalkeeper,” Ratzlaff said.
Hurdle, who led Northeastern with 21 goals last season, scored his second of the game about 15 minutes later to round out the scoring at 9-0.
Ratzlaff noted that he was pleased that everyone in the midfield or forward positions had their opportunities to score in the game as five different Eagles scored in the contest.
The coach was pleased with the win, but he also knows now what exactly there is to work on moving forward.
Northeastern is a young team with eight juniors and nine underclassmen on the roster.
“There are freshmen and sophomores in positions that they haven’t been in ever,” Ratzlaff said. “It’s a steep learning curve and they seem like they’re ready and willing to learn, so there’s nothing but potential there.”
Northeastern’s next game will be on the road at Gates next Wednesday.