By Bonta Hill
Coming into their Bay Counties League West opener against University High School, Lick Wilmerding had yet to allow a goal in their first four games of the season.
For the first 39 minutes of the match, it looked like the Tigers were on their way to another shutout, but the Red Devils would break a scoreless tie in the final minute in the first half and carried that momentum into the second half of their 5-0 win over Lick on Wednesday at the Crocker Amazon Soccer Fields.
University sophomore Parker Walls opened the scoring and the Red Devils (5-1-1, 1-0-1) would tack on four goals in the second half, including a hat trick from senior Kirk Horton.
“Sometimes when the passing isn’t going well, hard work prevails,” said University head coach Deejae Johnson. “We had a hard time in the first half connecting on passes, [and] our first goal kind of came from nothing. It was nice though to get something going into the half.”
Lick (4-1, 0-1) played tight with University throughout the first half, but couldn’t muster any momentum on the attack.
“We made one mistake in the first half and they scored from it,” said Lick-Wilmerding head coach Gavin Birmingham. “In the second half, we couldn’t connect on any passes. It gives us a lot to work on, given it’s the first [league] game. This shows us where we’re at and what we need to work on.”
University attacked early and often in the second half and scored again in the 56th minute, when Michael Lauricella’s shot deflected off of Lick goaltender Ryan Quinn inside the left post.
In the 68th minute, University went up 3-0 when Lauricella sent a crossing pass to Horton, who was waiting at the back post and easily chipped the ball in.
“We tried to switch to a 3-4-3 [formation] to attack a little more, but that just didn’t work,” Birmingham said. “Once we went down 2-0, we lost our sharpness and the flood gates opened up.”
Horton added a penalty kick in the 74th minute and another in the 79th minute to complete the hat trick.
“I was at the back post and the goals were just kind of tap-ins,” said Horton. “Our mentality is to keep pushing, and that’s what we did. We know Lick is a good team and we know they’ll come out hard the next time we [face them].”