HIBBING — Mesabi East Area boys soccer coach Jared Anderson has been waiting for his team to have a breakout game, and he finally got to see it.
Gavin Benz scored three goals, and the Giants smothered Hibbing/Chisholm defensively en route to a 5-1 high school boys soccer victory over the Bluejackets Thursday at Vic Power Field.
Anderson was most impressed with the intensity of his team.
“Anytime any of their players had a chance of attaining the ball, we were on them immediately,” Anderson said. “That was the biggest reason for our success. We were able to get on them immediately, and not give them a chance to make any decisions.
“That gave us the ball and the space to make plays.”
Anderson also watched his team execute some of the things they’ve been working on in practice.
“We’ve been working a lot on our touching and our passes,” Anderson said. “That showed out there. Over the past couple of years, we haven’t been able to pass like this. We’d be lucky to string together three passes.
“Now, we’re getting six, seven or eight passes, even with one touches, going back-and-forth and give-and-goes. That shows they’ve been working hard in practice and it’s paying off. We can showcase a little bit of skill now.”
That skill showed itself in the first five minutes of the contest when Logan Bialke scored just 3:30 into the game, then at 4:20, Gavin Benz scored his first goal of the season.
Anderson said it was nice to see his team clicking on all cylinders.
“That feeling of the things we’re working on in practice is incredible,” Anderson said. “Coach Eric is great with all of these technical skills, just working on certain situations. I have to give credit to him for coming up with situational things for them to work on.
“Our throw-ins, our corners and even our defending corners, our kids did exactly what we wanted them to do. We were able to keep the ball out of the net.”
Hibbing/Chisholm was able to get on the board at the 6:08 mark when Alex Chacich scored the first goal of the Bluejackets’ season to make it 2-1.
“I liked how much positivity they had for the goal,” Hibbing/Chisholm coach Joe Edman said. “I liked how many chances they had on goal. They seemed to have a lot of frustration when they were missing.
“That frustration led to other mistakes as well. We had good possession at times, but we had a lot of passes that led to turnovers. We have to work on that in the midfield.”
Benz took away that momentum by scoring at 31:58, then he tallied his hat trick at 36:00 to give Mesabi East Area a 4-1 halftime lead.
“Coming into halftime, the first thing we said to them is we have to keep up our intensity,” Anderson said. “We were up by two or three goals the last time we played Hibbing (last year), and they came back and beat us.
“We preached keeping up that intensity and play like we-were-down-by-one type of situation. The kids were fired up because I don’t think there’s ever been a hat trick in our program. The kids were pumped up about that. Their spirits skyrocketed.”
In the second half, Ryan Manninen tallied the lone goal for the Giants at 57:12.
Once again, the Bluejackets got too down on themselves when Mesabi East Area scored.
“They have to watch how much emotion they put into getting scored on,” Edman said. “It doesn’t feel good, but at the same time, you can’t look back and say, ‘I wish that wouldn’t have happened.’
“You have to move forward.”
Ryder Jerulle had 10 saves for the Giants.
Payton Forer had 18 saves for Hibbing/Chisholm
MEA 4 1 — 5
HC 1 0 — 1
First Half — 1. MEA, Logan Bialke, 3:30; 2. MEA, Gavin Benz, 4:20; 3. HC, Alex Chacich (Dallas Swart), 6:08; 4. MEA, Benz, 31:58; 5. MEA, Benz, 36:00.
Second Half — 6. MEA, Ryan Manninen, 57:12.
Goalie Saves — Mesabi East Area, Ryder Jerulle 10; Hibbing/Chisholm, Payton Forer 18.