Local Sports, Sports, Trinity Christian

Trinity shoots down Oak Glen on Senior Night

MORGANTOWN — Soccer teams often take their time getting a feel for their opponent — carefully probing for weakness and vulnerability — but the reality is that most coaches pretty much prefer that their charges start strong and ramp it up from there.

Trinity Christian hosted Oak Glen on Senior Night, and the immediacy of their performance matched coach Dan Lohmann’s preference to perfection, as they took control from the very first moments and never eased up, scoring early, late and often to forge a 5-0 first-half lead on the way to a dominating 7-0 victory.

It took just two minutes for the Warriors (7-3-1) to dent the scoreboard when junior Lucas Kniska pushed a perfect ball to space, releasing speedy forward Brock Shuba down the right side. At the top of the box, he released a bomb of a right-footed shot that zipped past Oak Glen (3-6) keeper Richie Gudino on the short side for the early 1-0 lead. After three more quality chances were narrowly missed or turned aside by Gudino (who finished with 11 saves), TC doubled its advantage at the 14-minute mark when senior Carmelo Kniska stepped into a through ball from Shuba and powered a shot through the Golden Bears keeper.

The Warriors made it 3-nil on a play similar to the first goal, as Shuba burst down the right side, ripped another right-footed shot that careered off the crossbar and onto the foot of C. Kniska, who wisely followed that and picked up a tap in goal. Not satisfied with a solid lead, Trinity kept the pressure on, as Shuba slid a ball to attacking midfielder Parker Hopkins who slammed a shot into the corner to bump the score to 4-0. The capper to the Warriors’ first-half blitz came from the senior Kniska, who turned outside the 18 and blistered a right-foot shot right into the corner with just a second remaining in the half for a spectacular goal and 5-0 TC advantage.

Up comfortably, Trinity coach Lohmann adjusted his team’s second-half focus to the possession game, along with a clean-sheet priority, and once more, the Warriors took care of business against the hustling, hard-working Golden Bears. Shortening the field and remaining calm on the ball as well as flipping the field effectively, TC controlled play throughout the remaining 40 minutes. Shuba continued his prolific match by scoring off the senior Kniska’s feed in the 57th minute, then sprung senior Charles Steptoe free down the left side for a nifty long-range goal quickly rolled under the hard-charging keeper in the 73rd minute for the final score of the match.

“I thought we got off to a good start, especially how our midfield connected with our forwards,” TC coach Lohmann explained. “Oak Hill played us hard and physical, and we responded with calmness and purpose. I liked our passing, either to space or to feet, and we shared the ball so well, which is something we’ve prioritized in practice.”

Trinity’s senior athletes, left to right, Jenna Bennett, Carter Hartsock, Ben Lohmann, Charles Steptoe, Carmella Kniska and Caelyn Unger pose for a group photo on Monday. (Benjamin Powell/The Dominion Post)

“And so much of our program’s success comes from our outstanding senior class,” he continued. “We’ve set things up for this to be the players’ team – with the coaches as guides and teachers – and the cohesiveness and generosity with which they all play is a tribute to their seniors’ leadership. They’re all such great people (Carter Hartsock, Steptoe, C. Kniska, and Ben Lohmann – and cross-country seniors Jenna Barnett and Caelyn Unger were also honored), such great friends, and such great teammates, and it’s simply been an honor and a privilege to be their coach.”