OAK PARK HEIGHTS — The Stillwater boys’ soccer team has not faced much adversity while outscoring its first three opponents by a combined 10-0, but Thursday provided an early test.
After giving up their first goal of the season less than three minutes into the game, the Ponies bounced back to record a 4-1 Suburban East Conference victory over Mounds View at Stillwater Area High School.
Ryan Elvidge provided Stillwater’s early wake-up call after a miscue in the back allowed Mounds View to create an opportunity to Elvidge headed past goalkeeper Ben Wilhelm to spoil his season-long shutout streak.
“We challenged a ball in the back and pretty soon it was one against one and that one was against the keeper and a good forward should finish on that,” Ponies coach Phil Johnson said. “Ben couldn’t do anything about it and it was good, energetic attacking on their part.
“That was an interesting moment in our season and it was so interesting to watch us react,” the coach added. “It took us a little bit of numbing time, but then we started building and continued possession and we swung the ball from side to side. We did not take more than three shots in the first half and in that kind of efficiency we scored three goals.”
Patrick Roth sparked Stillwater’s balanced attack with a goal on a diving header in the 32nd minute on a pass from James Menzies.
“Not only was it a beautiful goal, but the timing of it was beautiful,” Johnson said. “It was a goal of commitment and there isn’t much a goalkeeper can do about well-placed headers.”
The Ponies weren’t through as Sam Keran scored three minutes later on an assist by Max Boedigheimer to provide a 2-1 lead. Keran actually started the sequence in the midfield and after Roth carried it to the end line and crossed the ball in the box, Boedigheimer did a nice job to bring the ball down and finding Keran for the tap-in.
Then in the final seconds of the first half, Nathan Purdie slipped another shot past the keeper for Stillwater’s third goal in eight minutes for a two-goal cushion.
“Let me tell you, for all the work those two do at midfield they certainly deserve to be on the end of service and shots and goals,” Johnson said. “They are helping define our desire to possess and our desire to re-win the ball. The two of them are really playing in a harmonious way and the team knows it and responds to them, too.”
It started raining in the second half and Stillwater managed the slicker field effectively throughout. Keran scored his second goal of the game midway through the second half on a pass from freshman Cole Bardwell.
“Sam is a left-back, but he also serves some valuable time for us in other positions and he has become very productive in whatever position we put him in,” Johnson said.
Mounds View 1 0 — 1
Stillwater 3 1 — 4
MV — 2:00 — Ryan Elvidge (unassisted)
St — 32:00 — Patrick Roth (James Menzies)
St — 35:00 — Sam Keran (Max Boedigheimer)
St — 39:00 — Nathan Purdie (Roman Devine)
St — 23:00 — Keran (Cole Bardwell)
Shots on goal — MV: 3; St: 7.
Corner kicks — MV: 2; St: 5.
Fouls — MV: 10; St: 13.
Goalie saves — MV: Jake Bartels 3; St: Ben Wilhelm 2.