TAMPA — From the very first minute of its soccer match against Robinson, Jesuit had control, and it never really let the Knights take that power away. But in the first half, the Tigers had little to show for it.
Robinson’s soccer field is 54 feet wide, Jesuit coach Eric Sims said, 10 feet shorter than the home field on which his Tigers are used to playing. It forced the visiting team to adjust, and Jesuit took just a one-goal lead into the half.
After the break, however, the Tigers (7-1-2, 5-0-1) caught on to their slightly different plan of attack, scoring three goals to beat the Knights 4-0.
The smaller dimensions of the field forced the Tigers to play less in the middle of the field and get the ball to the wings more, midfielder Stephen Huetz said.
“You put 18-year-old kids on a field this size, it’s tough,” Sims added. “We play a lot of possessions, so it’s tougher to play on a smaller field.”
In the 48th minute, Huetz — who assisted Paul Anderson on Jesuit’s first goal in the 29th —took a long shot that forced the Robinson goalkeeper to attempt a leaping grab. It was out of his reach, though, and Huetz notched the insurance goal the Tigers so desperately desired.
“It was a big deal,” he said. “It really set the line that we were going to put it away.”
That’s exactly what Jesuit did. Connar Lufkin scored six minutes later to give the Tigers a three-goal lead. In the 68th minutes, Jacob Starnes took a long shot from the right corner of the field, the ball bouncing off the left post and into the goal.
“You meant to do that, right?” his teammate Jonathan Ruiz jokingly questioned Starnes as he came off the field. With a four-goal lead, the mood was light on the Jesuit bench as Tigers continued to pepper the goal with shots in the waning minutes.
Robinson (5-2, 3-2) barely had any chances to score, as Jesuit defenders cleared the ball the few times the Knights encroached on Tiger territory. Robinson had its best shot in the 39th minute when Abram Scharf made it past Jesuit defenders, but he took a shot too early, and it went wide.
Jesuit’s 4-0 win was its fifth shutout of the season. The Tigers have a lot of offense weapons, Sims said, but his staff is trying to stress the importance of winning the battle on both sides of the ball.
“We challenge them about to take pride in defending,” Sims said. “And they did a really good job of that tonight.”