BETHALTO — The Jersey Panthers soccer team continued its hot scoring ways in Tuesday’s Mississippi Valley Conference opener against the Civic Memorial Eagles at Bethalto Sports Complex.
The Panthers trounced the Eagles 7-0 with forwards Jake Ridenhour and Jacob Witt each providing the necessary firing power with two goals apiece. Jersey improves to 4-0 and 1-0 in the MVC with the win. The Panthers won their first three matches with a 16-0 count, as they defeated Litchfield 9-0 and Father McGivney 3-0 on Saturday and East Alton-Wood River 4-0 on Monday at the Carlinville Kickoff Tournament.
“It’s something that evaded us from last year, but we only lost two goal scorers last year,” Jersey coach Scott Burney said. “This group coming back didn’t want that to be a menace to them.”
Civic Memorial (1-4, 0-1 MVC) put one shot on goal in the first five minutes, but then Jersey started to challenge the Eagles. Ridenhour played a key role the in Panther’s offense early in the contest, as he scored a goal at the 11:24 mark. Ridenhour fired off a shot approximately 10-yards from the goal and the ball flew past Eagle goalie Jacoby Robinson and into the net.
On the second goal, Ridenhour put the ball in play on a corner kick and Drake Blackwell, just a few yards from the goal, scored on a header at the 19:40 mark.
“He’s a great player,” Burney said on Ridenhour. “We didn’t get to see him a ton at varsity last year because we had a really good senior in front of him. He’s coming off an ankle injury that he battled at the end of the summer. He’s not at full speed yet, but when he gets there we’re really excited about what he’s going to do for us.”
The Panthers continued to control the flow of play throughout the rest of the contest. Jacob Witt scored Jersey’s third goal at the 30:20 mark and Alex Goldacker scored the fourth with just 15 ticks left in the first period to give Jersey a 4-0 halftime advantage.
“We like to keep the ball away from our (goal) keeper,” Burney said on his team’s dominance in controlling the ball. “Although we have a ton of confidence in Zach (Ridenhour)”
The Panthers offered more of the same in the second half, as Chace Tallman (45:12), Witt (62:00) and Ridenhour (67:15) each netted goals in the second half.
Civic Memorial coach Derek Jarman talked about the Panthers level of experience and also past success.
“They have a lot of seniors (10) and they just won a regional,” he said. “We were very limited in what we could do. They just shut us down. Basically, we’re trying to build things from scratch here and it’s hard to match a team like this, but the best thing I can say is that we’re going to learn from this.”
Jarman said the Eagles struggled with the Panthers’ speed.
“I felt there were about 20 pink jerseys (Jerseyville’s travel uniforms) on the field at times,” he said. “It seems as if they got to everything and then they were able to go to open space and move the ball around. We were looking around like ‘wait a minute, what’s going on here.’ They are very fast and well coached.”