Sectional champs: Warren boys rout Waverly Tigers 6-1

VINCENT – Howling winds and sharp rain couldn’t slow down the pace of the Warren Warriors on the soccer pitch in the sectional final in Vincent Saturday afternoon.

And if the winds and rain couldn’t do the job, neither could Waverly goalkeeper Caleb Moore.

Playing solid possession soccer, the Warriors pounded out six goals with precise passes and crisp shots to claim their third straight sectional crown and advance to district tournament play in Lucasville Valley with a 6-1 win over the Tigers.

“That’s probably one of the best games we’ve played all year,” said Warren boys’ soccer coach Andrew Johnson.

Waverly managed just three shots on goal in the contest and none in the second half as the Warriors closed out the victory, marking the third consecutive year Warren has ended the Tigers’ season.

Offensively, Warren fired 26 shots with 17 of them on goal against Moore, who stood strong through the first 40 minutes of play allowing just two goals, but the senior netminder was victimized by the Warrior offense four times in the second half.

“We did a great job of taking apart the defense. That’s the best our middle has played all year,” said Warren senior Alex Miller, who scored a pair of goals.

Of the Warriors six goals, four were assisted and a fifth was the product of a rebound off more precision passing by the Warriors, who possessed the ball in the Tigers defensive third over three-fourths of the game.

“Our wings helped us out a lot. They (Waverly) weren’t really marking the wings that much,” said Warren junior Aaron Mazurkiewicz, who scored two goals and assisted two more.

Despite all the offense success the Warriors enjoyed, it was the Tigers who broke through first, turning their first offensive charge into a goal in the 13th minute of play.

Intercepting a pass in the midfield, Waverly junior Jacob Purpero beat a pair of Warren defenders down the far sideline and fired a perfect cross to Hudson Diener on the nearside, who beat Warrior goalkeeper Tyler Schwendeman for a 1-0 Waverly lead.

After that initial counter-attack, the Tigers would manage just two more shots against Schwendeman, who was up for the task each time. And on the other side of the field, the Warriors were constantly firing rockets at Moore, who finished with nine saves.

“We didn’t let Waverly dictate to us. We played at our tempo,” Johnson said.

That tempo resulted in the first of the Warrior goals, which began with Seth Hall taking control away from Waverly in the midfield and launching a pass to Mazurkiewicz. Mazurkiewicz then chipped a perfect pass over the heads of two Waverly defenders to Miller, who headed the pass past Moore to tie the game at 1-1 in the 16th minute.

Warren took the lead for good 22 minutes later, when Miller made a perfect touch pass to Ben Koch just outside the box on the near side. Koch then crossed to Mazurkiewicz on the back post for a 2-1 Warrior advantage.

On both of the Warriors’ first two goals, the ball was played completely across the field as Warren capitalized on the strength of their wings to maintain possession against the Waverly defense.

“It’s helpful that we have an option. We can take the ball outside,” Mazurkiewicz explained.

Playing into the wind in the first half, the Warriors were the beneficiaries of the sharp gales in the second, and they wasted no time putting the icing on their sectional crown.

In the 54th minute of play the Warriors broke through on a corner kick, as Michael O’Callaghan made a perfect cross to the back post to Miller. Miller’s shot was knocked off the goalpost by Moore, but waiting for the rebound was Kendrick Hendrix, who pushed the ball into the net for a 3-1 advantage.

Five minutes later the Warriors capitalized on a defensive breakdown by the Tigers, who knocked Nathan Robinson off his feet inside the box for a penalty kick.

Miller promptly drilled the shot into the net for a 4-1 lead.

Much as they tried, the Tigers could never get any offense going in the second half against the Warriors, who continued to possess the ball and create scoring chances.

“I told the guys at halftime I didn’t want them to touch the ball, and they barely had it in our half,” Miller said.

Six minutes after Miller’s second goal, the Warriors again capitalized on their passing as Mazurkiewicz fed a through ball to Robinson, who raced in all alone against Moore and fired a shot off the Tiger goalkeeper and into the net, becoming the fourth Warrior to score in the game.

“I had a man marking me the whole time and three other defenders behind me,” Miller laughed.

“When they were on us, someone else would be open. All we had to do was go through them,” Mazurkiewicz added.

Employing everyone on the field resulted in the sixth goal for the Warriors in one of the sharpest plays in all of soccer.

Miller made a pass out to Carter Magers on the far corner, and Magers fired a cross back into the middle of the field where Mazurkiewicz completed a perfect bicycle kick to put the ball into the goal and set the final score.

The win was the Warriors 14th of the year while Waverly ended its season with a 10-6-2 record. The 14-2-2 Warriors will now play Chillicothe Unioto on Wednesday at Lucasville Valley in the district tournament.

“I’m just so proud of them,” Johnson said. “Everyone out there played hard.”