GENEVA – A more physical and aggressive Geneva boys soccer team took advantage of a less experienced Batavia squad for a 4-1 victory Thursday night at Burgess Field.
The Vikings (2-4-2 overall, 2-1 Upstate Eight River) seized control of the flow of the game early, putting the Bulldogs (2-8, 1-4) back on their heels.
“Our fall teams have been struggling,” Geneva coach Ryan Estabrook noted. “There was a lot more buzz about this game than there has been in recent years. A lot of the student body wanted to see us have a positive result, against Batavia, especially since our football team had a really rough time against them. We felt like we were carrying the mantle for the school tonight and our guys were emotionally ready to go.”
The Vikings jumped out to a 3-0 lead after one half. The first goal came just less than 15 minutes into the contest, when senior defender Alex Zefron stepped nicely past a missed tackle attempt into the box and crossed the ball to Joshua Poythress.
Whether by design or not, Poythress headed the ball down onto the foot of senior forward Matt Butz, who drilled it cleanly past Batavia junior goalkeeper Nick Foster.
“The ball was free in the middle and I pretty much just kicked it as hard as I could,” Butz said. “It hit off Josh and just stopped right in the middle of the box.”
Ten minutes later, Nick Konicek made it 2-0 with a hard ground shot from just inside 30 yards.
With 6:44 left in the half, Butz scored again when he outfought a Batavia defender to reach a long pass from Beck Nebergall.
“It was just 1-on-1 and I beat the kid on defense and got a breakaway,” Butz said.
Foster made the initial save, but Butz buried the rebound.
“We weren’t matching their physicalness,” Batavia coach Mark Gianfrancesco said. “I don’t think we’ve played a team this physical.”
Defender Mike Rueffer, one of just two seniors in the Batavia starting lineup, said the Vikings came out more aggressively than the Bulldogs.
“They pushed everyone up,” he said. “They knew to attack us right away. They were big and physical. We didn’t match that right away and that put us back on our heels big-time. Anytime you’ve got a big, physical, fast team, you’ve got to match that intensity from all aspects – forward, midfield, even goalie.”
Poythress scored the fourth goal of the game 10 minutes into the second half. After that, the Bulldogs finally got into some offensive rhythm. They had one goal waved off on an offsides call, but scored with 9:36 to play on a goal by sophomore midfielder Adam Heinz.
The Vikings improve to 2-0 on their new home turf – their only wins of the season.
“That’s our motto right now – defend the home turf,” Estabrook said.
The next opportunity for them to do that will come at noon Saturday when they host Wheaton Academy.