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After playing so well to start the season, the Central Hardin Bruins finally suffered the dreaded ‘D’ word Thursday night.
No, not a defeat. That will have to wait until at least Tuesday.
The visiting Elizabethtown Panthers handed the Bruins their first deficit, but Central Hardin’s trailing time lasted less than a minute as the unbeaten Bruins rolled to a 6-1 win over their 17th District rival.
“We were down 1-0 to them at camp and we won 7-1, so it wasn’t like I was over there pulling my hair out,” said Central Hardin coach Mike Wiersema.
His players weren’t pulling their hair out either, but one those players, junior Jordan Smith, said they might want to pick it up against their Mulberry Street rival.
“We came out a little flat and when they scored us on, we woke up,” said Smith, who had one goal and two assists. “Now we shouldn’t have come out flat like that, but I’m proud of how we regrouped.”
The Bruins regrouped in quite a hurry, cruising into halftime with a 3-1 lead thanks to goals from junior Zach Fonda and seniors Austin Howard and Jordan Mabe as Smith, senior Ryan Keeney and junior Alec Burgess served as the set-up men.
“We need to get focused a little bit faster,” Burgess said. “We don’t tend to focus as early as we should.”
Elizabethtown (3-5-1, 2-1 district) appeared to have the better focus early, withstanding an early Bruin shooting barrage and taking the lead with 22:50 left in the first half as junior Hunter Gray took advantage of a Central Hardin defensive miscue.
Then the Bruins (5-0-1, 4-0) got angry.
Fonda scored in the 19th minute in the box off a feed from Smith, Howard scored in the 34th minute after Keeney headed the ball to him following a corner kick from Fonda and Mabe scored in the 39th minute on an easy tap-in after a cross from Burgess – a defender on a long run down the right wing – who had just gotten the ball back from sophomore right wing Ben Heideman on a give-and-go.
“We’ve been working on that play a lot in practice,” Burgess said with a smile.
Not that the Bruins needed the insurance goals, but Fonda, Keeney and Smith combined for the final three goals – and assists. Fonda scored in the 47th minute off a pass from Keeney, Keeney scored in the 52nd minute off an assist from Smith and Smith scored in the 54th minute off a feed from Fonda.
In the past three games, the Bruins have erupted for 24 goals for their best three-game stretch in more than 13 seasons.
“We don’t care about the end result,” Smith said. “We just want to play our game, play to feet and play the simple option.”
Meanwhile, the Bruins’ defense continues to be just as effect. Thursday marked Central Hardin’s ninth consecutive game it has kept opponents from scoring multiple goals.
“One of the best ways to keep a team from scoring on you is to have the ball,” Wiersema said. “When we possess the ball well, they can’t attack us. That’s really where it starts.”
UP NEXT: Central Hardin hosts Fort Knox at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Elizabethtown hosts Hopkinsville University Heights at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
Nathaniel Bryancan be reached at 270-505-1758 or firstname.lastname@example.org.