Next for Comets in sectional: vs. North White, 5 p.m. Wednesday
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
ARGOS — Rowan Jellison notched a hat trick, and Jonathan Pacheco also scored for the Caston boys soccer team in a 4-0 win over Culver in a Class 1A, Sectional 37 quarterfinal at Argos’ Eugene Snyder Field Monday.
The Comets built a 2-0 halftime lead on a pair of Jellison goals, both on rebounds. The defense held Culver without a shot on goal in the second half.
Caston improved to 6-9. They will play North White in the semifinals at 5 p.m. Wednesday. North White beat North Miami 2-1 in overtime in Monday’s other quarterfinal.
Caston knocked Culver out of the sectional for the second straight year.
Culver finished 1-7. Their only win was a 2-1 win over Caston on the road on Sept. 19.
“I think they were able to find some of our weak spots or softer spots and were just able to attack it fast,” Culver coach Adam Llovet said. “They’ve got some fast guys, especially up on offense that were able to really take advantage of things and get some good shots on them.”
Jellison’s first goal came when Culver goalkeeper Landon Stevens could not handle Jan Aguilar Mendez’s shot as he approached in off the dribble parallel to the left goal line with 32:50 left in the first half.
His second goal came on a putback of his own miss with 5:04 left in the half.
“Difficult,” Jellison said of his first two goals. “The first one was right at the ground but spinning backwards onto the opposite side of the field. And the second one was about bottom of the ribs, and I jump-kicked and it somehow went in.”
Jellison said this game was different from the first Culver game in that they strung passes together and connected defense with offense through the midfield.
His third goal came off a Pacheco assist. Pacheco dribbled down the middle of the pitch and dropped it off to Jellison, who fired a left-footed shot past Stevens in the back right corner to make it 3-0.
“All four years,” Jellison answered when asked how long it takes to build team chemistry in soccer. “All four years and every year you get to play, it just builds and builds and builds. You’ll never be at 100 percent, but you can get quite close.”
Said Caston coach Narciso Sanchez: “I think Rowan, from the outset, from the moment we got on the bus today, he was focused, dialed in already. He had his teammates focusing and thinking about the game. It was less playful today and more serious. It was time for that second season.”
Pacheco made it 4-0 with an unassisted goal with 7:17 left. He stole a pass in the midfield and drilled a left-footed shot from 30 yards out past Stevens.
Meanwhile, Caston’s defensive objective was not to let Culver’s Ethan Keller get in open space. Keller excelled at taking long, high passes over the top of the defense from Ashton Macedonio and converting in their regular season meeting.
“That kid’s quick,” Sanchez said of Keller in recounting that first meeting. “He got in behind us, and 14 (Macedonio) was serving dime balls. They were absolutely spot on on those passes that beat us … specifically over our center backs or slightly over our center back and fullback. But yeah, they got in behind us and finished two pretty nice goals. … So at least at this point, we knew what they might want to do or what they liked to do. So we were aware, any time a ball came over the top, we had one person address the ball and the other three dropping in behind.”
Llovet said Caston’s offensive aggressiveness limited more of those opportunities.
“Had we played a little more that way tonight, I think we probably would have had a little more success,” Llovet said. “Just because it does work pretty well against their defense. But tonight they really beefed up their defense, and it was really hard to get those balls. And I think the other piece of it is their offense just kept attacking us so much, we didn’t really have opportunities to really get many of those.”