Your Prep Sports
SOLON – Following the loss of Josie Durr and her state-leading 62 goals to graduation Solon coach John Tucker entered the season facing a question few coaches encounter.
How do you replace the state’s leading goal scorer?
The answer for Tucker has been a focus on team play and finding a few new scorers.
Solon did both of those things in its season opener on Monday.
Brianna Smith and Sylvia Havlicek each scored their first career goals in a 4-2 win over West Liberty in the season opener for both teams at frigid Spartan Stadium.
“We are going to have to focus more on team play,” Tucker said. “Obviously with Josie last year she was a great goal scorer and this year if we work together as a team I think we have some weapons up front.”
The departure of Durr, along with the loss of six other starters, left a massive scoring gap in the Solon lineup this season.
Of the 95 goals Solon scored last year 92 came from players no longer on the roster and the Spartans entered Monday’s opener with just two players with a varsity goal to their credit.
That number doubled in less than 50 minutes on Monday as Smith scored the first goal of the season less than eight minutes in and Havlicek had two second-half goals as Solon built a 4-0 lead.
Senior Lauren Roeder who was the Spartans’ top returning scorer with two career goals added a goal as Solon won its seventh straight season opener.
“We didn’t talk a lot about who was going to score or anything like that it’s just doing what you need to do,” Havlicek said. “It’s just playing together and playing good soccer.”
Smith is the most unlikely of what is likely to be a long list of first-time goal scorers for the Spartans this season.
The senior spent the past three seasons in goal before an injury forced a move to forward this season.
She needed less than eight minutes to score her first goal since her kindergarten days, knocking in ball that deflected to her in front of the goal.
“It was a great feeling,” Smith said. “I’ve had that feeling of people scoring on me the past few years while playing goalie and that feels pretty bad so it felt good to be on the other side of it for once.”
Smith had two assists last season but that was the extent of her high school offensive production.
It has been so far so good in her first season as a forward
“I think it’s going well, I’ve kind of flipped the whole script and it’s all kind of foreign to me right now,” Smith said. “I’m still kind of learning the whereabouts outside of the goal.”
Roeder added a goal in the 39th minute to give Solon a 2-0 halftime lead.
Havlicek quickly put things out of reach after halftime.
The sophomore scored her first career goal on a beautiful shot less than seven minutes into the second half.
Havlicek beat a defender down the right sideline and curved the ball across the goal and just inside the left post from 15 yards out to put Solon up 3-0.
“I just saw the goal open and thought you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take,” Havlicek said. “It didn’t look like it was in at first and then I heard everyone cheering.”
The impressive arcing shot from Havlicek had some help from the wind but Tucker said it wasn’t luck from the first-year forward.
“I’ve actually seen that in practice a couple of times, she has a good shot,”
Tucker said. “She can take it from pretty much anywhere around the 18 and put it on goal.”Just more than three minutes later Havlicek struck again to put Solon up 4-0.
Sarah Seele scored twice for West Liberty in the final three minutes to make things interesting but it wasn’t enough for the Comets.
“Of course I was happy to get a win and I’ve been trying different people in different positions because without seven starters from last year we’ve kind of had to reset a little bit,” Tucker said. “We’ve been trying different people in different positions and sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.”