Friday, March 16, 2012

SPORTS >> Devils on pitch, beat NP

Leader sportswriter

It didn’t take long for Crushawn Hayes to find his soccer legs.

Hayes, a senior and two-sport standout at Jacksonville, is only a couple of weeks removed from a long basketball season, but made his presence known on the soccer field with four quick goals against North Pulaski as the Red Devils rolled to a 7-2 victory at Falcon Stadium on Thursday.

Hayes did not enter the game until 20-minute mark of the first half, and by 15:35 he was already on the scoreboard to increase Jacksonville’s early lead to 3-0.

But he was far from done.

He scored again less than 30 seconds later and was close again at 12:27. His next goal came at the 29-minute mark to complete a hat trick, and Hayes added one more for good measure at 32 minutes to give the Red Devils a 6-0 halftime lead.

“It just came to me – it was a good game,” Hayes said. “I had open lanes. My partners were passing it to me, and I was finishing. Our speed had a major impact. We like to rush. We’re a fast-tempo team.”

David Soury and Edwin Hernandez gave the Red Devils early momentum as Hernandez scored from straight ahead in the third minute and Soury connected with his third shot on goal at 21:43 to give Jacksonville a 2-0 lead before Hayes entered the game and blew things wide open.

“It was a great first half,” Red Devils coach Quentin Sereal said. “We wanted to jump on them quick, and we just kind of coasted from there. Kudos to our midfield, we kind of controlled the game from the start, so it was a very good job by our midfielders.”

The time slotted for the second half was cut in half due to Jacksonville’s hefty lead, but the Falcons avoided a shutout with two late goals from Ulysses Arries and Zack Maier.

The busiest player on the field was North Pulaski goalkeeper Connor Thamen, who stopped a number of early attempts as Jacksonville attacked from all sides. But once Hayes entered the game, Thamen found himself target to an endless barrage of strikes from left, right and middle.

Hayes’ first goal was a high shot that went directly over Thamen’s head, and his second was a low bouncer into the left corner. His third went right and in the middle while his final shot was also low and left.

“He’s one of our key players,” Sereal said of Hayes. “A lot of times, they key in on him from the beginning of the game. So we wanted to bring him off the bench to kind of catch them off guard, and it seemed to work.”

David Aguirre scored Jacksonville’s only goal of the second half when Thamen played out close to the penalty arc and lost his footing, allowing Aguirre to gently tap in the final goal of the night for the Devils..

“I think the most important thing is that we have something we can build on now,” first-year Falcons coach Jeff Osbourn said. “Previous seasons, I don’t think the team has had a solid foundation or philosophy to build on. I think we kind of know where our strengths are now, and we definitely know where our weaknesses are, so I think I know what direction we need to take.”

Both teams will be off until March 27 when North Pulaski plays at Batesville and Jacksonville is at Searcy.