Tyler's Hat-Trick Fuels Colonials' Win
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Apr 10, 2014, 23:30
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
HOPEWELL — Colonial Heights' soccer team had been an afterthought heading into the season even though they possessed an experienced group of players led by eight seniors, nine juniors and one sophomore. It didn't take long for the Colonials to make an opening statement either with a 1-0 stunner over Prince George in their very first game.
Fast forward through two additional games — both wins including a huge road victory over Dinwiddie — the Colonials were riding high with confidence as they stepped off their team bus and walked onto the pitch at Merner Field. There was a sense of swagger seen in the way they operated through some intense workouts.
It was obvious through their intense glares and it was shown in the team camaraderie of having multiple players sporting mullets. All of it added up to a dominating display against old Central District rival Hopewell from the opening whistle.
The Colonials took possession and attacked with ruthless intent, securing two corner-kicks in the opening eight minutes while Jake Tyler put on his personal shooting display with multiple scoring chances which went for not. But then, in the 25' minute it all changed.
Tyler raced up the left flank and deftly positioned himself just a few yards away from the near side of goal. With everyone expecting a left-footed blast, Tyler used a right-footed flick to find the far-side of net to open up the flood gates in a 4-0 win.
"We've always been a possession team and this year, finishing has kind of been our problem as you could see tonight — it took us a little while to get one in there," Colonial Heights coach J.P. McNulty said after the game. "We were possessing the ball the way we wanted, moving the ball well and getting opportunities ... I was very pleased with the way we started out."
And the biggest reason for the Colonials' (4-0-0) success early in the match and throughout the 80 minutes of action was the strength of their midfield.
Cody Beeler, Jonas Biermann, Zack York and Linwood Fraher helped dictate the pace of play with their ability to both repossess the ball and push forward in attack. Specifically, the through-balls they played to Tyler in attack were things of beauty as were their exhibition display of the short-passing game.
The trio never rushed a decision, yet made them quickly with great effect which left the Hopewell (0-5-1) back line completely befuddled on what to do, who to mark up and how best to attack the dangerous offensive runs the Colonials orchestrated. In fact, during the first half of play, Colonial Heights fired off 10 shots while keeping the large majority of possession to keep Hopewell blank in shots taken.
"Cody Beeler is our leader there and he controls that middle, Zack York did a great job out there while filling in so that gives us depth going forward," McNulty said. "(Fraher) had two of the assists, one off the corner and he and Tyler are getting more familiar. He knows where he likes the ball and puts it on the spot."
But no one put the ball on the spot better than Tyler, one of the team's three co-captains.
The senior usually plays in the midfield, but with the team struggling to find the net, McNulty made the slight adjustment of putting him up top and sliding Biermann to the back, paying immediate dividends. Tyler proved to be the danger man early and often, sneaking in behind the Hopewell defense almost at will.
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
Tyler came close to scoring three different times in the first 25 minutes with one coming off a spin and crack at net from 35 yards out which went just wide from goal. But then he erupted after his right-foot flick found net to open the scoring for the Colonials.
Off of an out-swinging corner from Fraher, Tyler made a run which started outside of the box and ended in a full-out sprint toward the near side of net for a flicked on headed effort for his second tally of the night. An additional five minutes later, Tyler completed his hat-trick off another feed from Fraher before taking the ball out of mid-air with an in-step strike to the far left-corner of goal.
It was an effort which impressed his head coach.
"He was fantastic tonight," McNulty said of the senior. "He's our senior and he's one of our leaders with Beeler and Jake being the more offensive guy. He's been our go-to guy in terms of putting the ball in net."
While Tyler has proven to be a dangerous scoring option, other teams should be weary of the set-pieces run off of corners by the Colonials. Of their eight plus corners on the night, each one had a different design resulting in numerous shots on goal, excelling in a part of the game which can be the difference between winning and losing.
"Set-pieces have always been big for us to try to get something going," McNulty said. "Especially with Jonas because there is not many guys who can mark him, so we've been trying to get him in there ... you never know. If you get one off of a set-piece it could be the difference."
By excelling at set-pieces, having a proven scorer in Tyler and unity with a mullet-crazy team, Colonial Heights is perfect through four matches while making a statement heading into Spring break.