Greenup County boys soccer coach Andy Zabrieszack won’t be surprised if Ashland ends up as the next 16th Region champion — following his Musketeers.
Senior Jake Day served up five assists and sophomore Daniel Pina registered a hat trick as the Tomcats opened their season with a 10-0 road romp on Tuesday night.
Ashland dominated possession from the outset and rolled up a 37-4 shot advantage against the team that turned the 2012 region tournament upside down. But Greenup County returned only three starters and had six first-year soccer players in Tuesday’s lineup.
Still, Zabrieszack wasn’t quite prepared for the extent to which the Tomcats dominated play. Greenup County was coming off a 7-0 win over Rose Hill Christian on Monday night.
“Ashland can work the ball better than any team we’ve seen,” Zabrieszack said. “We went to the Bluegrass Games this summer and didn’t see anybody move the ball like that.”
Zabrieszack went on to say he admires the Tomcat program for the way players train at the YMCA and play indoor soccer all winter.
“A lot of them play EKFC (Eastern Kentucky Futbol Club),” he said. “Ashland’s a good team. It’s going to be hard to keep up with them.”
Unfortunately for Greenup County, the Tomcats entered the new season with added incentive after failing to advance past the district tournament last fall.
“We were not happy last year not making it to the region,” coach Kenny Wheeler said. “The boys have a lot of desire to get to state this year.”
Day, a senior midfielder, was pleased to spread the ball around to his teammates as Ashland mounted one attack after another.
“Everybody obviously wants to score goals,” Day said. “You’ve got to be unselfish, get your team into it. We definitely shared the ball.”
After some missed opportunities in the opening minutes for the Tomcats, Pina found the net for his first goal. Less than a minute later, Day slipped a short pass to sophomore Hunter Gullett, who connected on an open shot.
Ashland led 4-0 at halftime despite being slowed by several offsides infractions. Greenup County was limited to one shot on goal in the half.
Pina made it 6-0 with his second and third goals in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
The Tomcats returned 17 players this season. Wheeler and his staff wanted to get a look at several of them at different positions in the opener.
“We had a lot of people out of place, shifting them around to see just where it would make us stronger,” Wheeler said.
Six of Ashland’s goals came from sophomores, including two by Bryce Bentley.
Alex Donaldson contributed a goal and assist for the Tomcats. Robert Wesley, John Pina and Kyle Conley each scored a goal. Tanner Ganote had two assists, while Jake Belville and Matthew Cathey added one apiece.
“It’s a great start to the season, getting a mercy against the previous region champ,” Belville said.
Greenup County, meanwhile, is dealing with injuries as well as heavy graduation losses.
“I’m not disappointed,” Zabrieszack said. “This was not a district game. We just have to use it as a learning experience and move ahead. I’m still positive about what we are going to be able to do.”
Greenup Co. 0
Ashland rolled in its season opener with Aidan Young and Charity Collins leading the charge.
Young supplied four goals and an assist, while Collins finished with two goals and three assists.
Jessica Hunley added a goal and assist, and Kayla Brown also found the net for the LadyCats, who outshot Greenup County 26-2.
Ashland goalkeeper Jamie Downey was credited with two saves. Greenup County’s Emily Billups and Lakin Redmond combined for 10 stops.
ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2671.