FAIRMONT - Chris Sturdy made a couple of halftime suggestions Tuesday night, and Fairmont Area forward Sam Havnen and his teammates heeded their first-year head soccer coach's advice.
Havnen delivered a pair of goals and assisted on Derek Hunwardsen's netfinder during second-half action to power the Cardinals to a 3-0 non-league victory over the New Prague Trojans at Kot Soccer Complex in Fairmont.
After Fairmont Area goalkeeper Kyle Tromanhauser Jr. and New Prague netminder Noah Kottke held the opposing offenses scoreless for the opening 40-minute half, Sturdy gathered his troops for a brief instructional session at intermission.
UPFIELD RUSH — Fairmont Area’s Evan Ward (12) dribbles upfield and past New Prague’s Coleman Fierst (10) during nonconference soccer action Tuesday night at Kot Soccer Complex in Fairmont. Fairmont Area’s Peter Nielsen (left) watches the action. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
"The biggest thing we talked about was cleaning up our passing. Our defense was sound in the first half, so kudos to them, but our passing wasn't sharp overall," said Sturdy, who earned the first victory of his head coaching career. "I told Sam that he needed to shoot low and to the right, and it just so happened that's where he scored both of his goals in the second half."
Havnen appeared to have a breakaway opportunity only a minute into the second half, but an aggressive Kottke left the safety of the goalie's box to challenge and deflect the Cardinal senior striker's left-footed blast.
Havnen, however, could not be denied from drilling his left-wing rush into the right corner of the New Prague net nine and a half minutes later. Ryan Busche worked the middle of the field before delivering a seam-finding cross pass to Havnen. Havnen connected on his left-to-right goal for a 1-0 lead with 29:36 remaining in the second half.
Ben Timmerman nearly doubled the Cardinals' lead six minutes later, but just sent his left-wing drive only inches wide of the right pipe.
Austin Becker kept the pressure on the Trojans' defense by working the middle before spotting Havnen along the left wing. Havnen nailed another left-to-right shot to find the twine for a 2-0 edge with 20:15 left in regulation.
"It was good to see our players do a better job of looking to pass and finding their teammates in the second half tonight," said Sturdy.
Havnen did exactly that. Havnen weaved through traffic at the point and delivered a precision pass to Hunwardsen, who drove his shot inside the left pipe for a 3-0 margin with only 3:46 remaining in the game.
Tromanhauser recorded seven saves to earn the shutout for the Cardinals, while Kottke turned away six of Fairmont Area's shots on goal.
Fairmont Area (1-2, 0-2 Big South) plays host to Marshall at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 4, at Kot Soccer Complex in Fairmont.
New Prague (1-2) plays host to New Ulm at 5 p.m. Thursday.
New Prague 0-0-0
FA - Sam Havnen (Ryan Busche), 29:36.
FA - Sam Havnen (Austin Becker), 20:15.
FA - Derek Hunwardsen (Sam Havnen), 3:46.
Shots on goal: Fairmont Area 1-8-9; New Prague 2-5-7.
Saves: Kyle Tromanhauser Jr. (FA) 2-5-7; Noah Kottke (NP) 1-5-6.