Scoring surge

St. Joseph’s Lars Razor works his way past Niles’ Cameron Clanton during the first half of Thursday night’s game.

ST. JOSEPH – St. Joseph senior Casey Miller entered Thursday’s game against Niles hoping for a breakout game, and he got one.

Miller tallied a hat trick for the Bears in an 8-0 victory over the Vikings in front of a home crowd.

“Casey had a good practice the last couple days putting the ball in the back of the net,” St. Joseph coach John Brown said. “He’s starting to find that rhythm a little bit so that was good to see.”

Miller said he was relieved to break out of his scoring slump, even more so considering who was in attendance.

“I had a couple of family members that don’t normally come to my games come out tonight. That was some extra inspiration for me to go out there and bust my butt.”

St. Joseph, ranked No. 6 in Division 2, got off to an efficient start to the game by scoring three goals on their first three shots. Miller got the Bears on the board with a header assisted by Seth Walters at the 6:18 mark of the first half.

With the Bears leading 2-0, Mitchell Defrancesco channeled his inner David Beckham with a perfectly curved strike into the back of the net to put St. Joseph up 3-0. The Bears took a 4-0 lead into halftime.

In the second half, Jacob Scouler redirected a long ball into the net with a leaping left-footed kick for his second of the game. Miller, Jack Pender, and Tyler Burnette added goals in the second half to put the game away.

“We moved the ball halfway decent,” St. Joseph coach John Brown said. “I thought we struggled in the final third of the game to connect the final pass, but when you score eight goals you’re doing something right.”

The St. Joseph defense kept Niles out of scoring position for most of the game. The Vikings finished with zero shots on goal and goalkeeper Drew Gourlay made seven saves in goal.

“We’ve had a lot of chemistry lately,” Miller said. “We’re building on it as the games go by.”

The Bears (6-1 SMAC, 11-2) host South Haven (6-6-2) at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in nonconference play.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” Brown said. “Our goal is to be better tomorrow than today. Whoever we play, we play. “

St. Joseph 8, Niles 0

Goals – Casey Miller 3, Jacob Scouler 2, Jack Pender, Mitchell DeFrancesco, Tyler Burnette.

Assists – Seth Walters 3, Isaac Filippo, DeFrancesco.

Shots on goal – St. Joseph 15, Niles 0.

Saves – Drew Gourlay (N) 7.

Halftime – St. Joseph 4-0.

Records – St. Joseph 6-1 SMAC, 11-2. Niles 0-7, 4-8-1.

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