The departing seniors of Greencastle High School's boys' soccer team gave the home spectators one last show before sectional play opens on Thursday.
Behind a hat trick for senior Cody Watson and brace from fellow senior Spencer Moore, the Tiger Cubs routed visiting Owen Valley 9-0 to finish play at Dee S. Monnett field for the year.
The list of seniors ran nine deep for the Tiger Cubs, including goalkeeper Kyle Parker, defenders Marcus Benassi and Cameron Cash, midfielders Nathan Tharp, Spencer Moore, Josh Bonebrake and Clark Wilson and forwards JT Hennette and Cody Watson.
The hill west of the field was adorned with the numbers of each of the nine seniors. All nine started the contest, some out of place, though defender Benassi was quickly pulled, a decision Greencastle head coach Dave Lilly made with the sectional opener in mind.
Owen Valley came out with a hard pressing defensive philosophy, closing down the space around the Greencastle midfield and breaking up the hosts offensive movements when they could.
Though Watson hit the side netting and had a shot blocked, the Patriot strategy seemed to be frustrating the Greencastle midfield. As such, the Tiger Cub's first goal came from a corner.
After the host's first corner was knocked out of play by the Patriots, Basham sent in the following corner to the near post where Moore was first to arrive and slotted in nine minutes into the contest.
Moore would turn provider six minutes later. From a throw in, Moore skipped around his defender and sent in a low cross aimed at Watson. Watson turned and let the ball go by him, arriving at the feet of Evan Smith, who wrongfooted Patriot goalkeeper Josh Parker to make the score 2-0.
Two minutes later, Smith returned the favor with a defense-splitting pass that Moore stroked in past Parker for the three-goal lead. Barely a minute later it was 4-0 after a four-man passing movement involving seniors Josh Bonebreak, Moore, JT Hennette and Watson allowed the latter to tap in from 3 yards out.
Watson would get his second 10 minutes later after Smith sent him through the Patriot defense. Parker came out to attempt to collect the ball but Watson beat him to it and chipped over the Patriot backstop. Though Parker got a hand on it, the deflected ball looped into the back of the net for a 5-0 lead.
Parker would have to come off after the collision with Watson and was unable to continue. Defender Anthony Wooldridge would take over goalkeeping duties for the rest of the evening.
He was called into action three times before the break but did not concede a goal, leaving the Tiger Cubs in front 5-0 at halftime.
At halftime, the seniors were presented with their families and received plaques from the rest of the team. Owen Valley, meanwhile, took to the opposite side of the field and tried to regroup after a rough first half.
The 15-minute reprieve for the Patriots was ended within five minutes of the second half. Moore missed to the wrong side of the post and put in a cross across goal that no one connected with before setting up Watson's hat trick.
A simple clearance was gathered by the midfielder and pushed straight toward the Patriot goal. Moore could have taken the shot but instead slid the ball across to Watson for an easy tap-in to make it three goals on the day and bump the Tiger Cub lead up to 6-0.
Senior goalkeeper Kyle Parker, a virtual spectator in the first half, was called into action three minutes after the goal. Some confusion in the back allowed Owen Valley to get behind the defense, only for Parker to make a smart double save on shots from Logan Terrell and Casey Roberts.
Play immediately moved back into the Owen Valley half of the field and it was there that Sonney Basham popped up for a goal. The junior, Greencastle's leading scorer with 17 goals coming into the contest, was left unmarked on a Watson cross and popped his header past a stranded Wooldridge.
Owen Valley would come closest to scoring during the next five-minute spell. Parker ventured too far from his goal for a clearance and the ball instead ended up at the feet of Claude Macy. With an open net in front of him, he was unable to get his shot past the retreating Paul Heithaus. Less than a minute later, Nick Walker fired a shot in that skipped just past Parker's far post.
Within a minute of that miss, Greencastle scored again. Moore created enough space to get in a shot at Wooldridge, which squeezed under the keeper's body. Clark Wilson was first to arrive and slotted the loose ball into the net for the Tiger Cub's eighth goal.
The contest began to get a little chippy in the final 20 minutes as Greencastle continued to apply pressure. Basham was at the forefront of the attack, aiming to claim 20 goals before the season ended and he was able to get goal 19 with 16 minutes to go.
Jon Good dribbled into the middle of the field and laid the ball off to Luke Brotherton. Bortherton had it knocked away but the deflection went to Basham, who fired across Wooldridge to cap off the scoring.
Basham had two more good attempts to score, with one saved from Wooldridge and a second that found the back of the net that was ruled off for offsides.
By that time, the Greencastle squad had shuffled around everywhere. Hennete and Parker switched places on the field, Watson found himself in the midfield amongst other substitutions as the Tiger Cubs saw out the rest of the contest with minimum fuss.
With the season coming to a close, Lilly had some time to reflect on the final home contest for his current seniors.
"It's going to go down as the most prolific scoring group of classmates in GHS soccer history, I'm sure," Lilly said. "We're pushing 90 goals on the season and since they've come in as freshmen we haven't had less than 60 so we've has some pretty good scoring years while they've been here. A lot of success, and we'll find out if it continues coming into the tournament.
"Being that it's senior night, I wanted to let the guys play. The seniors, none of them wanted to come out and I pulled a few of them out here and there but traditionally I've let the seniors stay out there and play. It's a game where it's their last game at home and guys can get a single game scoring record or some guys with some good individual stats, I give them a chance on senior night to go out there and rack up some points."
With the sectional at Mooresville beginning Thursday, Lilly noted a couple of kinks to work out before then.
"We're going to work on a couple more set pieces, which is on our corners and free kicks," Lilly said. "We're going to work a little bit more with our back line and defending crosses. We had a couple of weak moments where we tracked the ball back to Kyle [Parker] with a defender on us and they didn't communicate well, whether they should turn the ball outside or let Kyle pick it up."
The opening contest for the Tiger Cubs will feature fellow WCC foe Monrovia, a team Lilly expects to be much improved since their first meeting.
"Monrovia, we saw them earlier in the year and we handled them pretty well," Lilly said. "I expect that they'll be playing a lot better ball than they did game one at the sectional. They have some talent."
"We got up on them early and they kind of got down. It was early in the season, it was still hot. I expect a totally different game out of them Thursday. I'm sure they will be prepared and they'll be leaving it all on the field, for sure."
As the team began to disperse, Lilly took a couple extra moments to reflect upon his seniors.
"I could probably write a book about them. It's been a great group of guys. We're really going to miss them next year and, you say that every year when you replace seniors with freshmen but there's a lot of talent in this group and it's going to be hard to replace them next year. We're definitely going to miss them."
Owen Valley 0 0 - 0
Greencastle 5 4 - 9
31:04 -- Moore (Basham assist) 1-0
24:39 -- Smith (Moore assist) 2-0
22:06 -- Moore (2) (Smith assist) 3-0
20:43 -- Watson (Hennette assist) 4-0
13:13 -- Watson (2) (Smith assist (2)) 5-0
35:10 -- Watson (3) (Moore assist (2)) 6-0
31:13 -- Basham (Watson assist) 7-0
26:10 -- Wilson 8-0
16:35 -- Basham (2) 9-0