After graduating its starting defense from last year’s state quarterfinal team, Battlefield is going with a “defense by committee” approach this season. And with senior starter
in St. Louis for a robotics competition on Thursday, the Bobcats’ back-line depth was tested.
“We really haven’t proven anything, so we always have to come out and be at our best,” said junior defender Patrick Gough, who started alongside Brian Eybers and Jason Hickman. “All three of us had never started a game before the season, so we know we have to prove ourselves every time we come out.”
That effort paid off early as the Bobcats (9-1, 6-0 Cedar Run) dominated possession and the offense swarmed Stonewall Jackson. Junior Michael Hanlon scored a pair of goals in the opening four minutes, then set up junior Ryan Swingle for the first of his two tallies. Cameron Maples and Sam McCain and Zach Windsor continued the barrage as Battlefield built a commanding 7-1 lead early in the second quarter all while implementing a new offense.
“We wanted to give them something fresh and a new challenge,” Coach Kevin Marsh said. “I think that’s probably the best we’ve looked all year.”
Senior Mark Kalajainen finally stopped the bleeding for the Raiders (6-3, 3-2) with his team-leading 23rd goal, but Battlefield responded with three more unanswered tallies to regain control.
Late in the first half, Stonewall Jackson found success isolating Battlefield’s defenders with one-on-one dodges. Goals from John Ross, Kalajainen and Carson Luttrell pulled Stonewall Jackson within 10-5 early in the third. But that was as close as they would get as the Bobcats’ defense buckled down the rest of the way.
McCain had two goals and three assists, Hanlon and Windsor each had two goals and an assist and Swingle and Maples also added a pair of goals as the Bobcats won their eighth straight game. They have not given up more than seven goals since an 11-10 loss at three-time state champion Langley on March 17.
“We had a lot of potential last year, and we’ve got a lot of potential this year,” Hanlon said. “But we came into the season with a fire, and we’re capitalizing more on our opportunities this year.”