A balanced attack and strong defensive effort propelled Howard to a 14-5 victory over visiting Atholton on Wednesday afternoon.
Seven different Lions recorded at least one goal but as any offensive player on the team will tell you – it’s not about who scores, just as long as someone finds the back of the net.
“On this team it’s more like if you’re open, you score. We don’t really keep stats because its about the team,” sophomore attack Scott Bruner said. “We have a good team this year. I feel like we could go pretty far. We’re pretty balanced in all positions and there is no weak link.”
Howard received a game-high four-goal performance out of Bruner, three goals from John Keohane and two each from Ryan Mills and Cody Ford. On the defensive end, goalie Bryan Mauser stopped six shots.
“Coming into the game we were really confident,” Keohane said. “The team is looking really good this year but we were surprised at how well we put it together out there today. I’m very proud of the team.”
The contest was originally scheduled for Tuesday but snow earlier in the week pushed it back one day. The delay didn’t seem to bother Howard.
“It was kind of good that we played today because all day in school yesterday we were wondering if we were going to play or if we weren’t, but today we were focused and ready to play,” Keohane said.
It was a dominating first-quarter effort from Howard (2-0 county, 2-0 league) that gave them control of the contest. Nick Striebich got the ball rolling when he finished a pass from Brad Zulick at the 6:10 mark.
Howard would score three more times over the next four minutes. Ford finished on an extra-man opportunity, Mills drilled a running right-hander and Keohane made a precise left-handed shot.
Kyle Courtney stopped the run for the Raiders (0-2, 0-4) with a jump shot with seconds remaining in the period but that would be the only tally of the half for Atholton.
“In that first half, everything that could go wrong did go wrong,” Raiders coach Erik Burnett said. “It’s frustrating to make so many small mistakes. A good team like Howard is going to turn those into goals.”
Bruner scored all four of his goals in the second quarter as the Lions took an 11-1 advantage into halftime.
Between John Travisano winning the bulk of the face-offs and Howard’s starting defense of Adam Friedman, Peter Emery and Nick Demers, Howard dominated possession and outshot Atholton, 19-9, in the opening half.
“One thing that we’ve had the past couple of years is a balanced attack on offense,” Howard coach Jimmy Creighton said. “A lot of different guys can score and it gives us some versatility which is going to help us in the long run.”
The offense was running smoothly but the defensive effort wasn’t lost on Creighton.
“The defense looked good and put the pressure on them early,” he said. “We kept that pressure on them pretty much the whole game. … We just have to keep that going and keep growing from here.”
The Raiders came out with a little more fire in the second half, notching the first goal three minutes in. Senior Zach Foster ended their scoreless streak, then Scott Brown and Tyler Shams added scores in the third quarter.
Glen Kasoff got the lone goal in the fourth quarter by either team but the hole was too big for Atholton to dig out of.
“The guys fought back in the second half. The score won’t reflect that but I thought there were some positive things,” Burnett said. “We’ve just got to move on to the next game. Games like this hurt but you have to just move on to the next one.”
Howard 14, Atholton 5