Marietta junior captain Brent Huck had a hand in all three goals as the Tigers scored a 3-2 victory over the Granville Blue Aces Thursday night at the Devola Soccer Complex.
Huck scored a pair of first half goals and then provided the assist on a Jacob Holdren goal that proved to be the game-winner in the Tigers' first home game in their newly re-seeded field.
"Brent (Huck) played a great game tonight," said Marietta head coach Todd Morris. "He was a little under the weather, but I can't say enough about the effort."
MIKE MORRISON The Marietta Times
The Marietta High boys’ soccer team huddles up before going on the pitch to play Granville at the Devola Soccer Complex Thursday night. MHS won a 3-2 decision.
The Blue Aces struck first when senior forward and captain Nathan Smith broke free and fired a kick that barely eluded Tiger keeper Eric Pierce just under six minutes into the game.
Neither team got very many good looks at the goal as Granville tallied seven shots on goal in the opening period while the Tigers got off six.
Fortunately for MHS, two of those shots found the net in the final 18 minutes of the half.
MARIETTA 3 GRANVILLE 2
Granville 1 1 - 2
Marietta 2 1 -3
G: Nathan Smith (unassisted) 5th minute
M: Brent Huck (unassisted) 22nd minute
M: Huck (Tanner Rake assist) 29th minute
G: Smith (unassisted) 50th minute
M: Jacob Holdren (Huck assist) 73rd minute
SHOTS ON GOAL: G: 19 M: 9
PENALTIES: G: 25 M: 20
CORNER KICKS: G: 1 M: 1
KEEPER SAVES: G: 3 (Nathan Fowler) M: 9 (Eric Pierce)
Next Game: Marietta Monday at home vs. New Philadelphia
With 17:42 to go before intermission Huck drilled a long free kick that snuck past Blue Ace goal keeper Nathan Fowler to tie things up at 1-1.
"I hit the ball with some outside spin and the goalie thought it was going left and it ended up going right," explained Huck, who also handles the place kicking duties for the Tiger football team. "It was just a good hit I guess."
Just over seven minutes later the orange and black were at it once again when another direct kick by Tanner Rake bounced off of the back of a leaping Huck and into the net to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead.
"The second one was a great kick by Tanner (Rake), said Huck. " I jumped up and I won it with my back and it just popped up over the goalies hands."
Huck and his Tiger teammates fought hard to keep the much bigger Blue Aces off the board for the rest of the half and Morris had high praise for his young defense.
"Our kids continue to be solid defensively," said Morris. "We are young, we start a sophomore (Andrew Roberts) and a freshman (Owen LaBarre) back there but they are getting the job done."
Granville played a very physical game against the undersized Tigers and both teams were penalized frequently in the game as the Blue Aces were flagged for 25 fouls while the Tigers were whistled for 20.
One of those 20 would lead to the tying Granville goal as after MHS was flagged for a hand ball inside the box, Smith converted his second goal of the game on the penalty kick to even things up at 2-2 with 29:43 to go.
The Blue Aces were on the offensive for much of the second half as they got off 12 shots to just three for the Tigers.
Pierce was credited with nine keeper saves and Morris gave him a lot of credit for holding the Blue Aces scoreless down the stretch.
"Eric Pierce is just so solid," said Morris of his junior keeper. "He makes not only the routine saves, but he can make the spectacular saves too."
With just under seven minutes to play the Tigers came up with the play that would prove to be the game winner.
After yet another Blue Ace penalty, Huck drilled a free kick from the left side that glanced off a pair of Granville defenders and then off Holdren and past Fowler for a 3-2 Tiger lead.
"It was a low driven ball by Brent (Huck) that bounced off of the defenders leg," said Morris of the game winner. "When you shoot good things happen."
Granville fell to 5-4-2 on the season with the loss and Morris felt it was a huge win for his soccer program to come up with a win over a tough central Ohio opponent.
"We really played well tonight, I am so proud of their effort,' said Morris, whose team improved to 5-1-1 with the win. "This was a central district team that we beat and that says a lot. Thats a nice win, not only for the season, but for our program."
The Tigers will return to action at home when they host New Philadelphia Monday night in a make-up conference match.