WOOD RIVER — Roxana freshman Dylan Klunk’s first varsity soccer match proved to be a memory making affair.
Klunk performed in the clutch in Monday afternoon’s non-conference contest against the Civic Memorial Eagles at the Wood River Soccer Complex, as his successful penalty kick lifted the Shells to a 1-0 win.
“ I’m proud of how I redeemed myself,” Klunk said.
The season-opening match, tied 0-0 after the first and second halves, remained tied after a series of five penalty kicks in which four out of five players from each team put the ball into the net. The contest proceeded into another set of penalty kicks — a sudden death set. Klunk — the only player to put the ball in the back of the net in the second set — gave the Shells a 5-4 advantage in penalty kick play and a 1-0 victory.
Roxana head coach Steve Dohnal said the kick, “was a big kick for a freshman to make.”
“ It was a lot of pressure, but he came in and did it so I’m proud of him,” Dohnal said.
The Shells certainly turned the tables from just a year ago.
“ Last year we played this team and lost 7-0,” Dohnal. “We’re playing a bigger school, but it’s good for us. We’re a small school and our football program takes a lot of the athletes. So, it’s a big win for us no matter how you look at it.”
Senior Roxana goalkeeper Austin Presley paced the Shells’ defense, as he recorded 15 saves against an Eagle offense that continuously worked the ball toward Roxana’s goal.
“ Austin was one of our most valuable players last year,” Dohnal said. “He had never played (high school) soccer until last year. We trained him and worked with him all through the season and this year he’s our starter.”
Presley said he “relied on his defense” throughout the night, but he also tried to stay one step ahead mentally.
“ I didn’t go after balls that I wasn’t really sure that I could get to,” he said. “I went after balls I knew I could get to. It was a great game overall.”
With CM challenging the Shells throughout the match and putting so many shots on goal, Roxana’s offense struggled to put together plays in the time they did control the ball.
“ We have a lot of young players and a lot of first time players starting varsity,” Dohnal said on his team’s inability to build offensive pressure.
The Eagles wasted no time in taking control, as they fired off four shots in the first 15 minutes of play and had seven shots on goal in the first half alone. Roxana had just two in the first half and two in the second. CM head coach Derek Jarman said his team struggled in putting together plays.
“ We need to work on crosses and we need to work on finishing,” Jarman said. “We talked about it before the game. We’ve been working on it all week.”
He also said his team lacks experience.
“ Over half of our starters have never played varsity before, in terms of playing more than 10 minutes at a time,” he said.
The Eagles next play Freeburg at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in Granite City while the Shells return to action against Staunton at 4:30 p.m. at home on Thursday.