Pacific soccer clinched its fifth-consecutive Four Rivers Conference championship Thursday.
Having previously beaten Union and Sullivan, St. Clair was the final remaining obstacle. The Indians (7-6, 3-0) shut out the Bulldogs (3-13, 0-3), 4-0.
Trey Boyer led the Indians with two goals and an assist. Jacob Hoehne and Nick Vanderver had the other two goals.
Hoehne and Isaiah Knotts were each credited with an assist.
“First and foremost, we’re glad to end conference play undefeated,” Head Coach Todd Dempsey said. “One of our goals this year was to come away with our fifth straight conference title and the guys worked extremely hard to make that happen. It’s tough to keep a streak like this going and the pressure seems to grow every year because no one wants to be the team that couldn’t keep it going.”
Goalkeeper Bailey Hoehne notched his third shutout of the season, each coming in the past two weeks. He needed just three saves to blank the Bulldogs.
“At times we looked a little sluggish on the offensive side of the ball, but our senior captains really stepped up to make sure we got the goals we needed to put this away,” Dempsey said. “I’m thrilled to see us playing pretty well over the last few weeks. We’ve had some big wins, and after an 0-5 start to the season, we’ve gone 7-1 in our last 8 games. It’s a good time to be hitting our stride and we’ve got a few more weeks to keep it going as we head toward district play.”
The Indians have match ups against district foes Union, Borgia and Washington remaining on the schedule along with three other contests before the Class 3 District 4 Tournament in late October.
The Indians second FRC victory came Tuesday in thrilling fashion against Sullivan.
Pacific rallied with three second-half goals to defeat the Eagles (6-9, 1-1), 3-2.
Sullivan notched a goal in the first three minutes to put the defending conference champions on their heels. Dempsey said his team was very different to start the game than it had been in a victory against Northwest the previous night.
“As well as we played versus Northwest on Monday, we didn’t do ourselves a whole lot of justice in following it up with our first-half performance against Sullivan,” he said. “Taking nothing away from Sullivan. They are a very good team with some outstanding players. We just didn’t look like we were ready from the outset and Sullivan made us pay big for that in the first half.”
Blake Dautenhahn and Danny Keough each put one past Pacific goalkeeper Bailey Hoehne in the first half as the Eagles took a 2-0 lead at halftime. Jacob Rohrer assisted both Sullivan goals.
Hoehne came up with six saves in the net for the Indians.
“We went into halftime with a two-goal deficit and I really wasn’t sure how we’d respond after getting punched in the mouth like that,” Dempsey said. “As the second half started, I was pretty happy to see us start to play with some urgency. We knew getting a goal back would shift the momentum and it really gave us a much needed confidence boost. Geoffrey Hayden scored first on a chipped ball that the keeper couldn’t get tipped over the bar. When that went in, you could see our change in attitude and we took off from there.”
Pacific didn’t get the equalizer until the 68th minute when Jacob Hoehne headed one past Sullivan goalie Jacob Wiley.
Six minutes later, Jacob Hoehne fired a shot that Wiley deflected and Isaiah Knotts rebounded and finished for the game-winner.
“It was exciting to see the kids rally back in such an important game,” Dempsey said. “They knew what was at stake and I’m proud of the way they responded.”
Chase Brakemeyer, Logan Lucas and Jacob Hoehne were each credited with an assist in the contest.
The win gave Pacific control over its own destiny in the conference standings heading into its last conference match with St. Clair Thursday.