ST. JOSEPH — St. Joseph wasn’t about to get off to another slow start against Edwardsburg in Tuesday’s Division 2 boys soccer district semifinal.
Isaac Filippo scored three goals in the game’s first 16 minutes as the Bears cruised to a 6-1 victory over the Eddies. St. Joseph advances to play the winner of today’s Lakeshore-Mattawan game at noon Saturday in Paw Paw for the district championship.
The Bears had to rally from an early two-goal deficit to beat Edwardsburg 4-3 in their season opener back in August.
“When we played at Edwardsburg, it was the first game of the year, we had some upperclassmen not hit fitness so they can’t start,” St. Joseph coach John Brown said. “That kind of set the tone for that game. Their grass is super long and super thick, and that affected our play a little bit. In the second half, we came out and kind of played like this.
“I think the boys tonight wanted to say hey, that’s how the whole game should’ve been the first game.”
St. Joseph (16-5-1) put pressure on from the start in Tuesday’s game. Filippo scored two goals off rebounds before completing his hat trick with a header off a corner kick.
“He just happened to be in a good spot at the right time,” Brown said. “That was just the relentless pressure that we were trying to put on them. We talked about when your moment comes, make sure you execute, and he definitely did that.”
Brown added that he was happy for Filippo because he has sacrificed for the team, playing in other positions.
“I definitely miss it, because I’ve been playing (defensive midfielder) mostly this whole year,” Filippo said. “I’m back where I usually play now, so it’s fun.”
Filippo added that he doesn’t mind playing wherever he’s needed.
“We have 24 people who can score on this team,” Filippo said. “I’m fine with that.”
The Bears nearly added a fourth first-half goal, but Casey Miller’s shot went in just moments after time expired.
St. Joseph got goals from Jack Pender and Jacob Scouler early in the second half to extend the lead to 5-0. Edwardsburg got on the board with exactly 10 minutes left on a long shot by Nathan Bessinger, but St. Joseph needed just 36 seconds to respond as Miller finally scored after several near misses.
“They always come out on the front foot,” Edwardsburg coach Sean Jesse said. “They come out real aggressive. I think we were just a little flat-footed. And give all the credit to them, they’re a quality club, there’s no doubt about it. We’re a team that has to be able to possess and work out, and it just took us a long time to do that, and by that time we were already down.”
St. Joseph 6, Edwardsburg 1
Goals — St. Joseph: Isaac Filippo 3, Jack Pender, Jacob Scouler, Casey Miller. Edwardsburg: Nathan Bessinger.
Assists — St. Joseph: Pender, Scouler, Justin Farrish, Micah Nolte, Ethan Murrin.
Shots on goal — St. Joseph 15, Edwardsburg 4.
Saves — Preston Nichols (SJ) 1, Nick Menke (SJ) 2, Zach Strycker (E) 9.
Halftime — St. Joseph 3-0.
Records — St. Joseph 16-5-1.
Contact: bsanders@TheHP.com, 429-1294, @HPBenSanders