MIDDLEBURG — Unleashing a pair of dominant wins just hours apart, Midd-West easily checked off its Saturday goals.
The Mustangs chalked up a pair of shutout victories as they won their own boys soccer tournament and claimed the championship trophy.
Garrett Kuhns and Carter Knepp each scored a goal — one in each half — and Chase Roush needed to make just one second-half save as Midd-West downed Benton 2-0 in the final that was contested on the field behind Sports Boosters Park.
“Pleased again,” Midd-West coach Mark Ferster said. “We’re going in the right direction.”
Jake Martin gave a spectacular performance for Benton (3-2) — Benton blanked South Williamsport 4-0 in the semifinals — as his play in goal kept the Tigers in it throughout. Martin finished with 15 saves, including one on a Knepp penalty kick.
Earlier, Midd-West (4-0) rode first-half goals from Conner Erdley, Chase Strohecker and Nathan Hartman to a 3-0 conquest of Jersey Shore. Roush finished with two saves.
“It feels good,” Strohecker said. “We’ve still got to keep working, or we’re not going to be able to continue that. We’re going to go back to the practice field on Monday and put the effort in.”
Jersey Shore topped South Williamsport 3-2 in the third-place game.
Strohecker was named the event’s Player of the Day.
Midd-West’s approach in both victories was nearly identical. The Mustangs maintained possession of the ball for lengthy stretches and kept their opponents on the backpedal by pressing.
When opponents did venture into the Midd-West end of the field — typically briefly — center backs Stefan Leitzel and Griffen Paige beat opponents to the ball or dispossessed attacking players and changed the point of attack.
“We did well,” Strohecker said. “We kept a goose egg on, so that was one of our first main goals that we were able to accomplish. And we were able to put enough in the back of the net to win.”
Since Martin was so effective throughout the championship game, Midd-West was unable to cash in until the 32:45 mark, when Knepp’s service from the left wing slipped through the crease to Kuhns — even though a Benton defender deflected the ball.
Kuhns easily buried a shot, staking Midd-West to a 1-0 lead.
“(Martin) was state of the art, I take nothing away,” Ferster said. “He played really well — really well.”
“Once we got the first one, we knew we had to both defend and attack to push forward and get more,” Strohecker said. “We were able to settle down, then push and get the second one — and then we felt a little more confident after that.”
The Mustangs did not need much time to add to their halftime advantage, as Knepp connected at 42:42 by putting away an offensive rebound after Martin knocked down Strohecker’s shot and the ball bounced back into the fray.
Midd-West spent much of the remaining 37 minutes in Benton’s defensive end of the field, but the Mustangs’ advantage never grew.
In its opener, Midd-West jumped in front of the Bulldogs (2-3-1) when Erdley ran on to a Trey Wagner through ball and slotted it into the back right corner of the net with 7:11 gone. Strohecker upped the lead to 2-0 just over a minute later, using several slick moves to create space after Knepp found him with a quality pass.
Hartman’s finish with 4:28 to play in the half, off a nice cross from the left wing from Owen Solomon, expanded Midd-West’s cushion to 3-0.
“To possess the ball is what we’re trying to get better at,” Ferster said. “So, to be able to do that today (was a positive). The flow of the game was a little stagnant at times, but when we strung it together I believe we played very well.”
MIDD-WEST 2, BENTON 0
MW-Garrett Kuhns (Carter Knepp), 32:45.
MW-Knepp (Chase Strohecker), 42:42.
Shots: MW 15-1. Corners: MW 8-0. Saves: Benton 15 (Jake Martin); Midd-West 1 (Chase Roush).
Consolation game: Jersey Shore 3, South Williamsport 2.
MIDD-WEST 3, JERSEY SHORE 0
MW-Conner Erdley (Trey Wagner), 7:11; MW-Chase Strohecker (Carter Knepp), 8:12; MW-Nathan Hartman (Owen Solomon), 35:32.
Shots: MW 7-2. Corners: MW 8-3. Saves: Jersey Shore 4 (Logan Bailey); Midd-West 2 (Chase Roush).
Other semifinal: Benton 4, South Williamsport 0.