By Dan Woodlock
Times-Junction Sports Editor
Willard turned back the clock, while also turning back Galion in Tuesday night’s Sectional soccer opener at Flashes Field.
Just three years removed from a bitter first taste of postseason play (an 11-0 loss to Lexington in Tiffin), Willard put together a similar sour recipe for the first-year Tigers program, as the Flashes rolled to an 8-0 victory.
Luis Alvarado piled up four goals and was one of five different Flashes to find the net on the evening, as Willard kept three different Galion goalies busy throughout the contest.
With the win, the Flashes (5-10-2) advanced to Thursday night’s Sectional championship match at Mansfield Christian.
The Flames had their way in a 6-0 win over Willard on October 8. But since that loss, the Flashes have been unbeaten over their last four matches (putting together a 2-0-2 record and outscoring the opposition by a combined 14-4 count).
The Tigers managed to hang within one goal in the first half, as starting goalie, Stephen Thompson, made nine saves. His only miss came on a WHS corner kick from Sergio Lopez to Alvarado, who scored on a header just over 16 minutes into the match for a 1-0 edge.
Thompson sustained an injury in the opening half and did not return for the final 40 minutes. Willard capitalized, piling up seven goals against back-up goalies, Luke Eisnugle and Ben Alstadt, beginning with a pair by Alvarado less than five minutes into the half and then seven minutes later for a 3-0 advantage.
Lopez took a feed from Yoni Morales and scored with 22:42 to play, and just 48 seconds later, Jonathan Delgado swooped in on a deflected save by Eisnugle and scored for a 5-0 cushion.
Willard finished things off with three goals in the final 9:01 of play, as Alvarado nailed number-four of the night, after forcing Galion to turn the ball over 20 yards from the net.
Jimmy Rodriguez knocked in a goal just 70 seconds later, while Collin Sherman finished off a break-away with the final score of the night, with just 32 seconds remaining.
“Galion reminds me of when we started to play as a team,” said Willard Head Coach Benjamin Guerra. “What I like about them is that they never gave up, and those are the positives they can build on in their first season.
“For us, we were able to get some opportunities tonight and we’re playing much better,” he added. “We have been practicing a lot on our defensive positioning. We felt tonight would not be as hard of a match, but we still wanted to work on things defensively to get ready for the next game, which will be a great challenge. We really fought for the ball tonight and our stoppers are starting to get a good understanding of what they need to do.”
The win followed consecutive ties to end the regular season for Willard. The Flashes tied Columbian, 1-1, getting a goal from Julian Gonzalez.
Alvarado buried two more goals and assisted on another for Sabastian Sivongsak in a 3-3 tie with St. Peter’s on Saturday. Morales also picked up an assist in the match.