Special to The Gardner News
About 60 percent of the way through a whirlwind string of five games in nine days, the Gardner-Edgerton High School boys’ soccer team has to be pleased with their progress. After Monday night’s 7-0 dismantling of Lansing at the Gardner-District Activities Complex, the Trailblazers are 3-0 on the five-game stretch with all three wins coming by shutout.
The Monday night victory over the Lions followed a 2-0 Trailblazer home decision over Olathe West on October 3rd and a 1-0 Blazer home win against Shawnee Mission North on October 5th.
“My college coach always talked about how winning is contagious,” said GEHS head coach Erik Jones after his team’s defeat of Lansing Monday night. “It’s been a fun process. The last few games have been fun to see us starting to click a little bit.”
The Trailblazers certainly clicked together Monday evening, scoring five goals before the halftime break and taking home a 7-0 win in a contest that was called with 8:38 left to play due to lightning concerns.
Junior midfielder Marshall Hammett led the way for the Blazers against the lions, racking up a hat trick of goals in less than nine minutes of the first half. After senior striker Rees Taylor opened the scoring by collecting a pass that had slipped through the Lansing box and putting in the back of the net, Hammett began his onslaught at 20:07 of the first half. That was when Hammett was the first in the Lansing box to make contact with a corner kick by from Taylor. Hammett headed home the aerial to give the Trailblazers a 2-0 lead halfway through the opening half.
A little more than five minutes later, Hammett recorded his second tally, careening in from outside the box to volley home another corner from Taylor and giving the Blazers a 3-0 lead.
Hammett racked up his final score of the night on a breakaway when Taylor launched a perfect crossing pass that Hammett headed home with 11:33 left in the half. Hammett’s third goal gave GEHS a 4-0 advantage.
After the game, Jones lay praise on both Hammett and Taylor.
“Marshall is a big, tall, athletic kid,” Jones said, “and he’s a nice target player for us. He hasn’t scored much this year because he’s been playing more of a defensive center midfield for us, but on restarts he was really good tonight. Two of his goals were off of Reese’s restarts. His last goal was fantastic. He did push through from that defensive center mid spot. The service Reese had was on the money and Marshall did a good job of focusing and finishing it away for us.”
Taylor continued his own big night just before halftime. Blazer senior midfielder Rafael Turecki intercepted an attempted clearance by the Lansing goalkeeper, then notched it into the box just ahead of Taylor who claimed his second goal of the night. That goal made the score 5-0 as the game entered halftime. On the night, Taylor finished with 2 goals and 3 assists.
The Trailblazers continued their offensive assault in the second half. With just under 30 minutes remaining in the second frame, GEHS junior midfielder Jorge Adams launched a perfect service off a free kick just outside the Lansing box. Senior defensive midfielder Cameron Schultz headed home Adams volley, and the Blazers led 6-0 with 29:44 remaining. Less than two minutes later, sophomore forward Brett Harding punctuated a breakaway with a strike past the keeper, making the final score 7-0.
It was quite a week of games for the Blazers who had to rebound after a disappointing 3-1 loss to Sunflower League power Olathe South. In the loss, GEHS had actually jumped out to a 1-0 lead and was still tied with South late into the game before surrendering two goals.
The Blazers bounced back on September 3rd with a 2-0 home win against Olathe South. GEHS started the scoring when senior midfielder Dalton Hill volleyed home a feed into the Owls’ box from Taylor. Taylor then closed out the scoring when scored off a breakaway pass from Harding.
Thursday, October 5th, the Trailblazers hosted the Indians of Shawnee Mission North. Battling their own sloppy play as well as the Indians’ tenacious attack, the Blazers recorded a win after Adams corralled a ricochet and put it past the keeper with 10 minutes left to play. Adams’ score gave GEHS a 1-0 victory.
Jones lauded his team’s efforts over the past week.
“I think what I get real proud about this team is how resilient we are,” stated Jones. “Yes, we had a tough loss against Olathe South, but then we were able to bounce back and get a win against West and keep that going against North, and those are big, important Sunflower League games. These guys never get down on themselves. They work hard. They come to practice trying to get better every day. There’s no lack of attitude or buy in.”
With the 7-0 win against Lansing, GEHS senior goalkeeper Tavita Ploetz recorded his third shutout in a row.