Sectional champs: Suckel scores 4 to lead MHS to 5-2 win over Jackson

DEVOLA – Max Suckel helped give Jackson High the boot with a strong right leg.

The Marietta High junior striker attempted four shots on the frame and all of the kicks beat the goalkeeper as the second-seeded Tigers defeated the third-seeded Ironmen, 5-2, in sectional final action at the Devola Soccer Complex Saturday.

Three of Suckel’s rapid-fire goals came within the first eight minutes of the match.

“That was a great performance by him,” said MHS head coach Todd Morris of the exchange student from Chile. “And to get three goals during the first eight minutes took the pressure off us so that we could kind of breathe and relax.”

Orange and black keeper Eric Pierce was credited with eight saves, and senior tri-captain Brent Huck added a second-half penalty kick for the Tigers, who are now scheduled to play Lancaster Fairfield Union in a district semifinal at Lucasville Valley High Wednesday at 7 p.m. Sparked by John Schmelzer’s hat trick and two Josh Hicks’ goals, the Falcons downed Circleville, 5-2, also on Saturday.

Brandon Ghearing and Cody Heft had one score apiece for the Ironmen, who exit with an 11-7 overall record. Chandler Fout had nine stops between the pipes.

Marietta improved its mark to 13-2-3.

“It’s a good win for us,” Morris said. “This is our first sectional championship for us since 2010. That’s too long for us.”

Fresh off its 6-0 opening round triumph against visiting South Point on Tuesday, Marietta continued its attacking ways, and staked itself to an early 1-0 advantage on Suckel’s score in the fourth minute of play. On the goal, he received a feed from Jacob Holdren on the left flank, and made one dribble move on a defender before blasting the ball by Fout.

“Jacob (Holdren) always assists me,” said Suckel, who has a team-high 23 goals on the season. “Thanks to him, I have a lot of goals.”

In the seventh minute, Suckel surged on goal from the left wing and took a difficult, angled shot, which Fout never touched as it hit inside the far post netting, making it 2-0.

With about 32 minutes left in the first half, Huck attempted a direct kick on goal, and on the ensuing loose ball in the box, Suckel booted it home to extend the Tigers’ lead to 3-0.

“I knew what was going to happen, so I had to be ready,” Suckel said.

A hat trick in eight minutes of play. Not too shabby.

Earlier this season, Suckel had a three-goal game in a win against Morgan.

Jackson cut it to 3-1 on a goal by Ghearing in the 29th minute.

But Marietta got that one back when Suckel got his fourth score of the match on a rebound shot past Fout and into an open net.

“Really, it’s not important who makes the goals,” said Suckel, modestly. “The important thing is the team. I’m sure this team is going to go far.”

The Tigers owned a 4-1 lead at the break.

Early in the second half, Holdren went on the attack, and was leveled by a Jackson defender in the penalty box. On the ensuing PK attempt, Huck placed it into the right corner of the goal, making it 5-1.

Late in the match, between the raindrops, Heft scored on a long perimeter shot, which Pierce got a hand on but was unable to control.

“We took care what we needed to take care of, so we’ll go from there,” Morris said of the game.