By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
SEQUIM — An aggressive Port Angeles boys soccer team got the better of rival Sequim and blanked the Wolves 4-0 Saturday in the first of three meetings between the two sides this season.
With the win, the Roughriders (3-1-0, 4-1-0) take over sole possession of third place in the early season Olympic League 2A Division race while Sequim (2-2-0, 3-2-0) drops down to fourth.
Ben Schneider was instrumental for Port Angeles, setting up Andrew St. George for the Riders’ first goal and finding the net twice on free kicks in the second half.
“His pace and his finishing on the direct free kicks, he gave them a lot of trouble,” Port Angeles coach Chris Saari said. “He was technically our only forward in that lineup and he was still effective. He’s been dangerous all season and its been a matter of getting his shots on frame and today he did that for sure.”
The Wolves opened the game with the better of the scoring opportunities but saw forward Liam Harris sky a chance over the goal post in the 8th minute and Ryan Tolberd’s on-target shot from close in saved away by Port Angeles goalkeeper Lorenzo DeLaTorre.
The Riders broke through in the 21st minute when Schneider gained possession of the ball and lofted it over the Sequim defense to an on-rushing St. George.
“I happened to be open but I took a bad touch,” Schneider said. But I saw St. George was running behind me and I flicked it up and over and hoped he would run on to it and he did. And he finished with a great shot.”
Port Angeles took a 1-0 lead into halftime and withstood Sequim’s offensive attack in the opening minutes of the second half.
Wolves’ defender Addison Berg was whistled for a foul in the Sequim half of the field in the 48th minute and the Riders took advantage.
Schneider stepped to the ball and quickly uncorked a deep bomb of a free kick that caught Wolves’ goalkeeper Navy Thomas-Brenske unawares for a 2-0 lead.
“I saw that Navy wasn’t set, he wasn’t ready, so I went quick with it and tried to hit it as hard as I could so he couldn’t get a hand on it,” Schneider said.
Schneider, last season’s All-Peninsula MVP selection, didn’t believe he had ever scored from so far out in his career.
“I don’t think so, no,” Schneider said. “Definitely not on a free kick.”
The Riders quickly added two insurance goals — Schneider receiving credit for a free kick from the left sideline that eventually trickled to the far post in the 54th minute — and Andrew Methner scoring off of a Kenny Soule throw-in in the 59th minute.
Sequim threatened to score on a couple of chances in the final 10 minutes, but Port Angeles’ defense stood tall and preserved the team’s second straight shutout.
“We allowed four [goals] against Kingston and two against Bremerton and we’ve been trying to tighten things up and focusing on clean sheets,” Saari said. “And they had some chances and ‘Zo came up big late.”
Saari praised his back line after the match.
“Hollund [Bailey] really had a good game,” he said. “I thought we won balls out of the air well and held them down. [Andrew] Borde and Cam[eron Butler] and Michael [Scott] all chipped in and Gabe Long was solid in the defensive center-mid.
Wolves coach Dave Brasher said his team wasn’t as engaged as the rival Riders.
“I think they just were the aggressor,” Brasher said. “They kind of took us out of the game by winning balls. In the first half I think they won most of the 50/50 balls. And a couple of quick free kicks got us in the second half. We were a little off all day.”