ST. JOSEPH – St. Joseph goalkeeper Nick Menke was the star of Thursday’s Division 2 district opener against Sturgis, but not in the way you would expect.

After spending the first half of the game in goal, the four-year goalie played in the field during the second half and scored his first-ever goal to clinch an 8-0 win for the Bears.

“It was awesome,” Menke said. “I’ve been here four years and I’ve never gotten on the field before. Coach gave me the opportunity, which I was happy for. My players helped me out because they would just feed me ball after ball and they were subbing everyone else in trying to get me the ball and it finally happened.

“I was happy and thankful for that.”

Jack Pender scored the game’s first goal 14 seconds in. The Bears scored six more goals to make it a 7-0 game at halftime.

“They were willing to play for one another today,” head coach John Brown said. “There was some very unselfish play so it was really nice to see. They really wanted to get (Menke) the goal. We do stuff with him on the field in practice. It worked out so it was cool to see that.”

Menke was able to experience just how different scoring a goal is from preventing them. When he finally scored halfway through the second half, he was rushed by teammates and showered with cheers from the crowd.

“You have to change your mindset,” Menke said. “You have to go from the mindset of a guy trying to save goals to the guy trying to score. I was trying to pass the ball off and if it was there, I take it. I had a little bit of fun out there but ultimately I tried to do what I knew, which wasn’t much.

“But it worked.”

Eight different players scored as St. Joseph tallied 19 shots on goal. Preston Nichols was in goal for the Bears in the second half. Sturgis didn’t register a shot on goal.

St. Joseph (15-5-1) will host Edwardsburg (10-7-1) at 5 p.m. Tuesday in district semifinal action. The two teams faced off in the season opener with the Bears edging the Eddies 4-3.

“We haven’t seen them since then,” Brown said. “They probably got better and we’ve gotten better, so we have to be ready to play. We really want to focus on one game at a time. We have to be better tomorrow than we were today.

“That’s what we focus on and whoever we play, we play.”

St. Joseph 8, Sturgis 0

Goals – Jack Pender, Isaac Filippo, Seth Walters, Micah Nolte, Jacob Scouler, Casey Miller, Lars Razor, Nick Menke.

Assists – Tyler Burnette, Pender, Filippo, Miller.

Shots on goal – St. Joseph 19, Sturgis 0.

Halftime – 7-0.

Records – St. Joseph 15-5-1, Sturgis 4-12-3.

Contact: mharden@thehp.com, 932-0371, @HPMaxwellHarden