One game at a time, the North County boys soccer team continues to make mincemeat out of the toughest of competition.
Yesterday afternoon, the undefeated Knights were expected to face yet another stiff test against a formidable Arundel squad. What started out as a tight defensive struggle turned into a 6-0 shellacking of the visiting Wildcats, as North County improved to 7-0 overall, 4-0 in county 4A competition.
Jody Haslip and Mike Hoskins tied for team scoring honors with two apiece, while underclassmen Mark Durm and Shawn Moyer each chipped in with one.
"We were very tentative out there today," said Arundel head coach Nick Jauschnegg. "We weren't able to get the consistency that we needed. The way we've been playing lately, I thought we'd have a pretty good chance at shutting them down."
The Wildcats (5-3 overall, 3-2 in 4A league play) began the game using a deliberate style of play, using constant back passes to goalie Bryan Nehman (six saves). Their only shot of the half occurred at about the 10-minute mark as fullback Cory Turner's run down the right side was thwarted by goalie Jesse Haslip. At 21:34, Jody Haslip pounded a right-footed direct kick from 25 yards, starting the Knights' scoring binge.
Less than two minutes later, Haslip deflected a short goal kick to just outside the penalty box, while Hoskins pounced on the loose ball and drilled it past Nehman.
Two minutes before the end of the half, Haslip tallied his second score off of a 10-yard kick, tucking a pinpoint shot around a five-man wall and into the upper-right corner of the net, giving the Knights a 3-0 lead at the half.
"It looked like they were playing to shut us down offensively," said North County head coach Steve Malone. "They packed it in defensively, hoping to catch us off guard on a quick strike, and frustrate us. They did a decent job of it for a little while."
Jauschnegg said, "You have to give credit where credit is due. They are just a good team that is playing really well at the moment. After those first three or four goals they scored on us, things just got out of hand for us. They are very good, but they aren't six goals better than us."
During the second half, North County riddled the Arundel defense with 15 shots on goal (22 overall). Arundel's last scoring opportunity came less than five minutes into the half, as senior striker Scott Young dribbled through the gut of the Knight defense only to be cut down by defender Karl Wick and Haslip.
At 7:07 in the half, Moyer headed a crossing pass from senior Dae Sik Ham into the net. Thirty-three seconds later, Hoskins added his second goal as Nehman and fullback Scott Penland crossed signals inside the penalty box, allowing Hoskins to slip in for the easy shot. Midway through the second half, junior defender Mark Durm added the coup de grace, putting in a rebound off of a shot by Josh Merrill.
Although not short on talent, Malone has credited his team's success to its character.
"We're playing with a lot of confidence. They believe that they can beat anybody, but yet, they give every team respect," he said. "We've been showing a lot of character. We may have developed a reputation by this stage, but reputation is only what people think. Character wins games.
"Our goal this year is not to win, but to get better with every game. We can't play the way we did today and expect to beat Broadneck (this Friday)."