It’s a pretty rare result for a soccer player making his high school varsity debut to come out and score a hat trick.
So Oshkosh West’s Alex Jaenke is just one of many that didn’t finish with three goals in his first varsity game. He got four instead.
Jaenke scored the Wildcats’ first four goals, including two in the opening minutes of the second half that helped spark a 7-2 win over Hartford in West’s season opener on J.J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium.
“My teammates definitely were playing very good balls to me. I couldn’t do anything without them playing me the ball,” Jaenke said. “Any of the goals I scored (credit) goes to them, too. They were just as much a part of it as I am.”
West coach Matt Callahan was definitely pleased with Jaenke’s debut performance.
“I’m so glad for him,” Callahan said. “For him to come out and have a phenomenal performance, I could not be more happy for him. It really helps us out.”
Jaenke’s two biggest goals came in the opening minutes of the second half.
West had jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first 13 minutes of the match. Hartford’s offense had started to gain momentum over the final 10 minutes of the first half and cut the Wildcats’ lead in half when D.J. Bednar converted a penalty kick in the 35th minute.
Jaenke, though, wouldn’t let the Orioles get any closer.
He took a feed from Stephen Finley and found the back of the net just 1 minute, 53 seconds into second half and then scored an unassisted goal about a minute later that pushed the cushion to 4-1.
Jaenke said his two first-half goals boosted his confidence and he was intent on adding to his team’s total after the intermission.
“We came out strong and put them in,” said Jaenke. “(Scoring a goal) makes me want to try even harder, especially after the second one and then they scored. It made me want to come back out and score again so it wasn’t as close and we didn’t have to worry. It makes it a little easier on all of us.”
Jaenke then set up teammate Simon Knudtson for West’s next goal — sliding a slick cross to the 6-yard box that Knudtson drilled into an open net — about 10 minutes into the second half.
“For (Alex) to come out there and put two in the back of the net and slide things back in our favor was huge,” Callahan said. ” I think once Alex scored, it just started to build up everyone’s confidence and they really started to get aggressive.”
Hartford scored 23 seconds after Knudtson’s tally to keep the margin at three, but Luke James and John Schnabel each scored in the final 15 minutes to seal the win.
James tallied his goal on a header as he beat Hartford goalkeeper Colin Stocking to a ball in the box on John Yang’s long free kick. Schnabel scored off an assist from Zach Walker to put the final touches on the win.
“It’s a big boost in confidence to start out so strong and play so well together,” Jaenke said. “We haven’t had much practice and just coming out so strong feels really good.”
West’s defense barely let Hartford sniff many scoring opportunities as the Orioles got their goals on the penalty kick and on a ball misplayed by West goalkeeper Jared Jaeger.
Jaeger only had to make only three saves in the match while Hartford totaled just five shots in the game and one corner kick.
“That was something I really did not know how it was going to go,” Callahan said. “Three of our four starting defenders from last year graduated. These guys coming in, I knew they were good players, but I didn’t know how it was going to go. I thought they did a great job.”
Oshkosh West 7, Hartford 2
First half: OW –Alex Jaenke (John Schnabel), 8:22. OW — Jaenke (Jack Arps), 12:50. HART — D.J. Bednar (penalty kick), 34:12.
Second half: OW — Jaenke (Stephen Finley), 41:53. OW — Jaenke, 43:19. OW — Simon Knudtson (Jaenke), 50:02. HART — Drew Checolinski, 50:25. OW — Luke James (John Yang), 65:58. OW — Schnabel (Zach Walker), 77:52.
Saves: HART (Colin Stocking) 7, OW (Jared Jaeger) 3.
Steve Clark: (920) 426-6659 or email@example.com