And the blitzkrieg was just getting started.
Sullivan Central netted in the first and second minutes, shelling South Greene 8-0 in non-district soccer action Thursday night.
“That was pretty good,” Central coach Cliff Ferguson said. “Our offense worked really well tonight. Not a bad way to start the season, I’d say.”
The Cougars revealed a robust attacking repertoire in their season opener, leading by four goals just 12 minutes into the match.
Bennett Becker began this season much like he closed the last — on fire. The senior striker, who scored a school-record 34 goals a year ago, opened his 2009 account in the second minute.
Becker added to his tally in the eighth via a rasping drive from 18 yards. The hat trick was complete a minute before the half thanks to a near identical effort.
A groin injury kept Becker off the field for most of the second half — and likely for today’s match at Elizabethton — but the result was already well in hand.
“I’m trying to to get back to form,” Becker said, “but my groin injury held me back tonight. I’ve had it for about a week, but this is the worst it’s been.”
One could hardly tell. Becker had a pair of assists as well, setting up Neyland Hopkins for arguably the game’s best goal after 23 minutes. Hopkins latched onto the deftest of touches from Becker, and struck a first-time effort with the outside of his foot past South Greene keeper Roger Sherman at his near post.
Senior Austin Culberson benefited from Becker’s other assist, wrapping a right-footed effort just inside the near stick in the 61st minute to cap the night’s scoring.
Culberson, a winger, threatened throughout thanks to some great service. His pinpoint corner kick set up Kenneth Long for the match’s opening goal, a towering header into the far-side netting. Later, he teed up Becker for his third.
Central finished with 45 shots, 23 on goal, compared to just three total shots for the Rebels (1-1). Also scoring for the Cougars were Zach Shelton (12th) and John Long (penalty, 49th).
“There are a lot of things we still need to improve upon, but for the first game, we looked pretty good,” Ferguson said.