Fairfield Union continually pressured the ball as Liberty Union struggled to retain possession in the Falcons’ 4-0 Mid-State League-Buckeye Division victory Thursday.
“We’re a blue-collar team and we love playing a team like Liberty Union where we get to play a grind-out style,” Fairfield Union coach Shane Perdew said.
The Falcons (6-3, 2-2) created opportunities early in the game as multiple throw-ins from Ben Hultz found their way into the box in the game’s first six minutes. Although none of those chances found their way into the back of the net, Fairfield Union was able to strike more than 10 minutes in when John Schmelzer turned a ball from the right side of the box into the left corner of Liberty Union’s goal.
Perdew said the constant pressure paid off.
“We have a great attacking six,” he said. “The style that we play, the constant transition, it works in our favor.”
The Falcons continued to possess the ball for the much of the first half, doubling their lead when a Hultz throw found the head of Drew Blower.
As Fairfield Union’s chances came in bunches, the Lions’ were few and far between. When Liberty Union (3-4-3, 0-2-2) was able to make runs, it often came with their forwards advancing the ball as the midfield sagged back. Its what Lions coach Jared Shy said was a result of the Falcons’ play.
“It was their passing, they had some really skilled players in the midfield and they controlled the midfield,” Shy said. “We weren’t able to get the ball and get players up.”
Liberty Union was without midfielder Travis Arnold, who was sitting with a red card.
The Lions were able to test Fairfield Union’s goalkeeper in the second half as a through ball from Calvyn Quick set up a chance for Drew Winchell with 29 minutes left, but Nathaniel Castle turned it away. Seven minutes later, Quick took a goal kick which Castle deflected before the ball was sent high above the net on a rebound opportunity.
Castle, a freshman making his second career start, made six saves and said the Falcons consistent attack took the pressure off him.
Ryan Hill made a run up the right side and finished an unassisted goal for Fairfield Union with 13:34 left. Less than a minute later, a back-heel goal from Blower finished the scoring.
Jackson Rucker had 11 saves for Liberty Union.