Vikings pounce early

Ashley goalkeeper Ryan Keller tries to make a stop during the Screaming Eagles' game against Hoggard on Tuesday night at Ashley. (Photo by Jeff Janowski)

Seth Harris has felt the effects of the boys' soccer coaching change at Hoggard as much as anyone.

First-year coach Peter Broadley wants the Vikings to press for offense, which means a heavy workload for the team's midfielders who need to be able to help on both ends. Early this season, the senior center midfielder had to push through burning lungs and aching legs as his body caught up to the style shift.

In Hoggard's 5-3 win over Ashley on Tuesday, Harris showcased the rewards of his hard work. He scored twice and assisted another goal, all in the first 20 minutes, to send the Vikings past the Screaming Eagles in their Mideastern Conference opener.

"I was a little bit out of shape at the beginning, to be honest," Harris said. "I think everyone had to get in shape first, but we've been scoring a lot of goals. … It's working."

Because of a cancellation last week, Ashley (1-4-1, 0-1 MEC) hadn't played in 10 days, and Hoggard (6-1-1, 1-0) didn't allow the defending Mideastern Conference champions to get settled.

In the fourth minute, junior Dylan Morton carried the ball down the left flank and beat a defender near the end line to create the threat. Ashley goalie Ryan Keller punched out Morton's shot, but Harris timed his crash perfectly and ripped the rebound into the open net to give the Vikings a lead they would never give up.

Harris produced the second score in the 11th minute with his quick thinking. He drew a foul, placed the ball quickly and hit senior Gus Piepmeyer with a curling service before the defense could get into position.

With a low blast inside the far post, Harris closed the early barrage off a feed from senior Chandler Bagley in the 20th minute.

"Hoggard's a much better team than anybody else we've played to date, but they were not as good as we made them look (early on) because we weren't playing," Ashley coach Giles Roberts said. "We were laying back and letting them do whatever they wanted to do."

Piepmeyer, the team's longtime defensive anchor, started in the midfield for the first time and scored twice. He now leads the team with eight goals in as many games.

The Vikings have scored at least three goals five times already this season.

"For me, the first part of the game was seeing it come to fruition a little bit," said Broadley, who took over in May after longtime coach John Teller retired. "The shape of the team and the way we played tonight was really what we were aiming for."

Ashley returned just three players with starting experience off a squad that lost just once in league play last fall. After allowing the game's first four goals on Friday, the Screaming Eagles managed to give Hoggard a scare with some late offense from sophomore Evan Laverick.

Harris and several of the Vikings starters had gone to the bench when Laverick scored twice in less than three minutes to pull Ashley within two. Broadley quickly brought them back to make sure the Vikings could close out the win.