Youth Movement: Rookies lead 2-0 start

Danny Schoenbaechler

Western midfielders repeatedly tried to play long balls to Jason Dugas Tuesday night. But for 93 minutes it didn’t work.

The Toppers had fought back from a second half deficit against Belmont to force a sudden-death overtime.

Finally, the long ball worked. A long pass connected and found its way into the net for a 3-2 Toppers’ victory.

Dugas, a freshman playing in only his second collegiate game, took a pass from fellow newcomer Ritchie Mupfudze and slid a shot past the Belmont goalkeeper.

Dugas was mobbed by his ecstatic teammates.

“Ritchie played a fantastic ball,” Dugas said. “When they get the ball to me in space, I really like it. I haven’t really seen anyone so far that is as fast as me.”

Western coach David Holmes agreed.

“Ritchie gave him that through ball, and his first few steps are incredible,” he said. “We’re still figuring (Dugas) out.”

Western improved to 2-0 this season and 8-0 all-time against Belmont. But Tuesday’s game was much closer than the usual meeting between the two teams.

“Belmont is a good team,” Holmes said. “That is the best I’ve ever seen them look.”

Western jumped out to an early lead when senior Ben Buerger took a free kick in the 10th minute, playing it to another rookie.

Buerger, the team’s captain, played a low line-drive across the penalty area, and freshman Steven Medlock nodded it in with a spectacular diving header. The goal was the first of Medlock’s young career.

Western took a 1-0 lead into the half, but Belmont came out of the intermission inspired.

It took the Bruins only four minutes into the half to get the equalizer, and 13 minutes to take a 2-1 lead.

Western turned up the heat for the final half hour of regulation.

“They came in thinking they could beat a Western team starting five freshman,” Holmes said. “The spirit of these guys is incredible. They weren’t going to walk off the field without a ‘W.'”

In the 66th minute, junior Austin Oyler raced to a bouncing ball in the box and played it off his head to a streaking Justin Goodman.

Goodman, a sophomore, blasted a one-touch volley past the diving goalkeeper to knot the score at two.

“Oyler flicked it on to me,” Goodman said. “I put it away in the left corner. It was pretty sweet.”

That goal set the stage for overtime, and for Dugas’ mad dash to the goal.

“I couldn’t let it go. I had to finish it for the team,” Dugas said.

The Toppers are now 2-0 after opening the season with a 4-0 romp over Kentucky Wesleyan Saturday night at home.

Western has scored seven goals in the two games, with five of them by freshmen. Dugas is responsible for one in each game.

“I’m still getting used to everybody, and they are getting use to me,” he said. “But we know what we are capable of doing.”

Reach Danny Schoenbaechler at [email protected]