The Clinton Dark Horses soccer team took to the field at the Dark Horse Soccer Complex on Wednesday evening to open the 2015 campaign against North Brunswick. The Horses unveiled a new offensive scheme that capitalized on their speed to make quick transition attacks on the unsuspecting Scorpion defense. The new look was a hit, as the Dark Horses put up five first half goals on their way to a 6-1 win, in a weather shortened contest that was called at the 50 minute mark due to lightning in the area.
Freshman Peter Darden was a one man wrecking crew against the Scorpions, scoring 4 goals. Darden constantly ran past defenders to get clear shots on the goal in his first varsity action.
Clinton head coach Brad Spell commented on Darden’s performance, saying, “Peter had a huge first game tonight. I was really pleased with his play. He got some nice assists from his teammates, and took advantage of what the defense gave him.”
John Fox headed in the first goal of the night off a Spell Carr corner kick at 13:58 of the first half, giving the Dark Horses a 1-0 lead. North Brunswick got the equalizer 93 seconds later when Bryan Lopez caught the Clinton defense on its heels, and hammered a goal in from the right wing to knot the score at a goal apiece.
Ivan Palencia pumped in Clinton’s second goal at the 17:46 mark, off an assist from Luke Byrd, to give the Horses a 2-1 lead, and for all intents and purposes, enough offense to win the game.
The Horses took control of the game at this point as the defense stepped up and allowed the Scorpions very little space to work with for the remainder of the half. Meanwhile, the Peter Darden show was in full swing. Darden scored a goal at 23:46 in the first half, then added another score at 25:36 on a breakaway assisted by Ivan Ponce, to give Clinton a commanding 4-1 lead. Darden picked up the hat trick with his third goal at 36:12 off a nice assist from Ivan Palencia to put the Horses up 5-1 going into the halftime break.
The Horses wasted little time adding to the score once play resumed in the second half. Peter Darden fired in his fourth goal of the night at the 41:34 mark, assisted again by Ivan Palencia.
North Brunswick seemed to take some momentum away from the Horses for a few minutes following Clinton’s last goal but were never able to get a shot past goal keeper Gray Sutter.
“We have some things that we have to clean up in the midfield. They (North Brunswick) possessed the ball a little too much in the second half for my liking,” commented coach Spell on what he perceived as a second half lapse.
The game was stopped by the officials at the 50:17 mark due to lightning in the area. The referee first stated there would be a 30 minute delay, but soon decided to call the game, giving Clinton their first win of the season. Spell was pleased with the win, saying, “It is always good to get the first game under your belt, get past the nerves. Our energy was good, and we communicated well. It was a good team effort overall. We are going to find out where we are pretty quick; we play Croatan on Friday and Richlands on Saturday. Both those teams should give us a real test, Croatan is in the East Central Conference and Richlands is also and old East Central rival so they will be tough matches.”
The Dark Horse JV also opened the season in impressive fashion, dropping the JV Scorpions, 9-0, mercy ruling North Brunswick at the half.
JV head coach Mitchell Brewington said after the game, “Our team surprised me but they didn’t surprise me. This is a very talented group of young players and they played so well together tonight. They scored early, just 13 seconds into the game, and kept the pressure on North Brunswick all day. They really shared the ball, always making the extra pass looking for a better shot. I was most proud of this unselfishness.”