Freddy Aguilar (21) races past Ballard defender Logan Huntrods (5) during a game played May 22 in Jefferson. The Rams won 7-2.

Saving some for the finals

Greene County flies past Ballard in substate semi-finals


A quick start was all that was needed and expected. 

Monday night the Greene County boys soccer team wanted to start their substate tournament on a quick note. They did that, and more as they were able to take down Ballard 7-2, moving one game closer to the State tournament. 

The goals came early, and in the first half, often as the Rams seemed to ware out the netting on the north side of Linduska Field in Jefferson. 

“We’ve had a good, solid year all year long. Just before substate we changed up some things that I felt we were better suited for. Another thing that helped us in that first half,” said Greene County boys soccer coach Carl Behne. “We had the guys in the right spots and that really sparked us through the first half until we lost our cool and started to pull back a little bit.”

By the time the first card appeared in Monday’s game (there were three overall) the Rams already had the game well in hand. They were leading 6-0 through the first half. 

A lot of the reason for the lead was a little bit of luck, and a lot of Greene County’s overall skill advantage over Ballard showing through. 

Just seven minutes into the game the Rams struck first. On the first goal the Rams were able to show off a little bit of both skill and luck. 

After the Rams had gained control of the ball deep in the Bombers zone a pass was sent to the middle of the 18-yard box where Gesser Gutierres was able to receive the pass. From there he dribbled around two different Ballard defenders, first pulling them to the left before he stopped the ball cold and cut right. Now, Gutierres was all alone with the goalie.

He pulled the same trick trice. He jerked his feet and body to the left, but left the ball motionless on the ground to his right. 

After the Ballard goalie dove to make an imaginary stop, Gutierres rolled a soft kick towards the back of the net. The shot was almost too wide though, but luck was Gutierres’ and the Rams side. The ball crashed into the side bar and then across the goal line for the goal and the Rams had a 1-0 lead. 

It wasn’t long before the next goal was added. 

Just under two minutes later Bork Ersnes had tracked down a shot and bumped it into the back of the net using the top of his head. 

The impressive goal helped the Rams gain a 2-0 lead. 

Ersnes would strike again just over six minutes later. 

A loose ball had scooted deep down the field and Ersnes was in a foot race with a Ballard defender for the ball. Ersnes gained control of the ball and then rushed into the 18-yard penalty box. 

Suddenly the Ballard defender realized he was beaten and there was only one way to stop Ersnes challenge the goalie one-on-one. 

The slide tackle was too high and Ersnes went down with a somersault as the ball rolled out of bounds where Ersnes had just been dribbling. 

Immediately the referee blew a whistle and motioned for a penalty kick. 

Ersnes went to the left-hand side of the net while the Ballard goalie dove right, allowing the Rams to gain a comfortable 3-0 lead. That penalty kick would prove to be the game-winning goal.

“The guys were motivated to start the game and we played very well,” Behne said after the game. “That start really helped us play well throughout the entire game, and we just need to play that smart for the rest of the post season.”

Almost exactly one minute after Ersnes netted his second of the game Gutierres was able to get his second of the contest as well. 

This time Jose Velazco had dribbled the ball though a hoard of Ballard defenders. Just as the second wave was about to stop the progress he had made, Velazco threaded the needle with a pass between two Ballard defenders right to the foot of Gutierres. Without hesitation Gutierres buried the side of his foot into the ball, and it was in the back of the net before most of the defenders had realized Velazco didn’t have the ball anymore. 

After that goal the game settled down for the most part. Still, Greene County dominated the ball and possession, so it was no surprise that they went up 5-0. 

This time Kolby Angell was able to send the ball into the back of the net. Angela was able to get the ball off a pass from Gutierres. From there Angell was able to dribble around a flat-footed Ballard defender, before firing off a shoulder-level shot that the Bomber goalie had trouble locating. 

More luck returned to the Rams for the final goal of the first half. 

Velazco was able to take the penalty shot after a handball was called in the penalty box. 

Velazco actually wasn’t able to fake out the goalie on the original shot as Ballard’s goalie stepped right in front of the ball. 

However, his block bounced right back to Velazco who simply kicked in his own rebound for the easy goal. 

“We just had to save some guys to make sure we were smart, and ready for Wednesday night’s game,” Behne said. “We cut back a little and we didn’t have the same intensity that we had in the early part of the game. We sat a couple guys and went down by three starters for pretty much the entire second half which meant we couldn’t be as aggressive in the rest of the game.”

For the rest of the first half the aggressiveness on the Greene County side simmered down. Especially after two yellow cards were issued in the final minutes of the first half. The yellow cards forced Greene County to rest some of their stars so they would still be available for the substate final game later in the week. 

With a calm game for most of the second half the only highlight was when Jack Hansen was able to fire in a goal early on in the half. 

The goal for Hansen started when Velazco had taken a long shot that sailed high and bounced off the front of the cross bar. This time Hansen was the nearest Ram player for the rebound. His goal didn’t exactly come in the most conventional ways. 

Hansen was trying to to race a Ballard defender to the rebound, but he was given a slight push from the Bomber player. That push was all Hansen needed to put a chest on the ball and ricochet it into the back of the net. 

Ballard scored twice in the second half, and threatened more, but were never threatening for a lead. 

The win was the second of the year for the Rams over Ballard. Although the first one came to a different-looking Bomber squad. 

“Ballard is a solid team,” Behne said. “I know they have been working all spring to get better from our first meeting, and this was definitely a tougher game than what we saw the first time around.”

With the victory the Rams move onto the substate final game where the Rams hosted Chariton with the winner going to the State tournament. 

“We played Chariton last year in the first round of substate,” Behne said. “They have a very solid defensive team, so we’re going to have to take the opportunities when we get them. We’ll also have to play solid defense as well and not give them the same chances.”

In their win over Ballard the Rams had 19 shots on goal. 

Gutierres and Ersnes both finished with two goals each. Hansen, Vleazco and Angell all had one goal each. 

Velazco and Ersnes both had assists. 

Goalie Gabe Eiersole made eight saves on the 10 shots he faced in the contest. 

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