By PAUL GOTHAM
For the Honeoye Falls-Lima Cougars Saturday afternoon’s match at Victor was as much about learning from the past as it was figuring out the future with an injury-riddled lineup.
Early returns indicate an understanding on both levels.
Parker Hotchkiss netted a pair of goals and assisted on another as HF-L downed the Victor Blue Devils, 4-0 in non-league action.
Hotchkiss converted his first of two penalty kicks late in the first half, and sophomore Hayden Smith connected on his first varsity goal early in the second half to ignite the Cougars.
“You give a goal up when it’s 2-0 and then it’s a game again,” HF-L coach Mike Merrill said. “It’s 2-1. It’s a dangerous score in soccer.
“In the beginning of the year, we would give one up. But now we’re pushing through. It’s good to see.”
Senior David Goetz took matters into his own hands with a rush along the left wing and a finish just inside the far post.
“Putting in that third one and responding that way rather than conceding was really good,” Merrill added.
The goal was the fifth of the year for Goetz.
“I picked it up around midfield,” Goetz explained. I had been running at them basically the whole game. I saw an opening and I went through and tucked it away.”
The shutout was the fourth straight. A stretch in which the Cougars have outscored opponents 15-0. Senior Nico Coria made a pair of spectacular saves late in the game – a leaping stop on a blast just outside the 18-yard box from Anthony Cardilli and sliding stop of Patrick Fiorica in the open field.
“In terms of saving the ball he’s the best in the area,” Merrill noted. “He’s really hard to beat on the shot. He saves us big time.”
Fittingly, Hotchkiss took both HF-L penalty kick opportunities. The senior, with eight goals on the season, creates a threat that causes opposing defenses to overcompensate. This was apparent on the first goal when his header off a corner kick forced a hand ball in the penalty area.
“He’s a dangerous player,” Merrill said. “He’s great with his back to the goal, but he can also get past you. Not a lot of high school strikers can do both of those. It’s puts a lot of pressure on the opposition. We got guys coming out of the midfield too. He opens up the game pretty well for us.”
HF-L played without starters Roth Wetzel and Brian Teel as well as regular contributor Blake Eby.
“At the end of the day, we pushed through that and other guys have stepped, and they’ve realized ‘hey, we have to move forward without those three guys,'” Merrill stated. “They’ve done that really well.”
Victor came in winners of four straight and looked the part early in the game. Geoff Gerbasi made a rush from midfield and forced a corner kick – the first four in little over a minute.
“We weathered that storm and didn’t concede a goal,” Merrill said. “Sometimes you just got to get through it, and we did in that instance. It was good.”
HF-L (8-2-0/4-0-0) hosts Monroe County Division IV foe Eastridge Tuesday night for 6:30 p.m. kickoff.
Victor (4-5-0/3-2-0) returns to Division I play when the Blue Devils host Hilton also on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.