The Rolla soccer team opened their season against Pacific on Tuesday, Aug. 28. After a slow start, the Bulldogs finally broke through just before halftime on their way to a blow out 7-0 win.
Rolla had their fair share of opportunities in the first half, but they couldn't quite convert on any of those chances. Pacific had the best chance early with a corner kick in the eighth minute. After the initial kick was swatted away, Pacific got the rebound and fired a shot on goal. Keeper Josiah Homan was out of position after colliding with a pair of Pacific players, but Adeeb Messri was there to save the day for Rolla. The Bulldog defender was able to get a head on the shot to save a goal.
After the near goal by Pacific, Rolla controlled the half. Evan Moore nearly gave Rolla a lead in the 16th minute, but his shot in the crossbar. Jarret Gabriele had several great chances in the half, but couldn't get a good foot on the ball to convert. That finally changed in the 38th minute when Gabriele scored on an assist from Moore to put Rolla on the board. Moore then scored a goal of his own seconds later on an assist from Carson Arnold, giving Rolla a 2-0 lead at the half.
The Bulldogs then kept pouring it in after halftime. In the first minute of the half, Moore made a great cross on the box, which Gabriele nearly headed in. The Rolla forward couldn't quite get his head on it, but Mohammad Alamaldiem was in the middle of the box to clean things up for his first goal of the season. Gabe Stanislawski took over from there. The junior midfielder had a pair of free kicks in the 47th and 52nd minutes and he buried both on gorgeous shots from outside of the box. The Bulldogs found the back of the net one more time when Lane Mabe scored on an assist from Jack Gesualdi in the 67th minute to finish off a 7-0 win.
Head coach Mike Howard wasn't really sure what took his guys so long to get going, but once they did it was all Rolla.
"I don't know if it was nerves or what, but our first 10 shots on goal were basically passes to the keeper," said the Rolla head coach. "But we hung in there, we competed. I think we just wore them down physically and mentally at the end of the day. I thought our guys played really well, especially in that 15 minute stretch where we scored six goals."
Across the board, coach Howard saw several players playing lights out all night long.
"Evan played fabulous, Adeeb played a great game as well. Gabe, those free kicks were top drawer. I think we have the tools to hurt people with our offense," said coach Howard. "I was pleased with the way we played defensively as well. I thought Nate (Pulliam) did a great job for his first game out there ever, Josiah made one mistake on that corner kick, but it didn't hurt us. Rhys (Proffitt) is always going to be steady and I thought Tanner did adequate. There's room for improvement, but he listens and works hard. Zack Pendelton played there in the second half and did well too."
After opening the season with a win, the Bulldogs will travel to Pacific next week to play in their annual tournament. Coach Howard was glad to get a good win in before a solid tournament.
"We play the team that finished second in the state in our next game," said coach Howard. "It's a tough tournament and we love being in it."