Pam Pack wastes no time in first-round win

Published 1:36 pm Thursday, November 5, 2015

OPEN THE FLOODGATES: Kyle Hodges works around a South Granville defender. He was one of four goal scorers in the Pam Pack’s 9-0 rout of the Vikings.

OPEN THE FLOODGATES: Kyle Hodges works around a South Granville defender. He was one of four goal scorers in the Pam Pack’s 9-0 rout of the Vikings.

Washington plowed through South Granville, 9-0, in the first round of the state soccer playoffs and it only took 46 minutes. The Pam Pack, led by Freddy Jimenez and his hat trick, scored nine unanswered goals to force an early conclusion to Wednesday’s game.

Set pieces were a focal point of the Pam Pack’s offense. They scored four goals on long throws and netted two more when the visitors struggled to clear corner kicks. They spent much of the game playing in Viking territory.

“We put time into them,” said coach Jim Kozuch. “It’s no secret. We’ve got many guys on the team that can launch the ball. We try to take advantage of it as well as we can. It was one of those days where it’s really wet and hard to get the ball away. Our guys were getting to the ball. When it’s in the air, it’s a battle of who wants it more. We wanted it more down there.”

It took a little while for Washington to settle in. Passes in the midfield weren’t on the mark, likely because of the weather, and Viking goalkeeper Justice Shuta made some key saves. The Pam Pack found twine the first time in the 10th minute when Miguel Hernandez launched a deep throw in into the box and Erik Ruiz headed it past Shuta.

“I felt we started off sluggish,” Kozuch said. “We were flat. I don’t know if we were having a hard time adapting to the wet field or something, but we just didn’t start off well. We weren’t moving the ball very well. Our passes weren’t crisp. When we turned it on, we turned it on nicely.”

That first goal flipped the switch. Kyle Hodges nearly doubled the advantage a minute later with an open look in front, but he caught the ball at the wrong angle and sent it wide left.

The Pam Pack continued to dominate possession and started spreading the field out. They looked to cross the ball into the box from the right side, but instead caught the hand of a Viking defender. The result was a penalty kick, which Jimenez scorched past Shuta.

Jimenez gave Washington a 3-0 lead in the 32nd minute when he headed home a goal via a throw in.

“I think our first goal motivated the guys to get going and they just fed off that,” Kozuch said.

South Granville’s breaking point was an own goal in the 34th minute. Pam Pack keeper William Tate launched a goal kick down the field. Washington’s forwards chased it down, which forced Shuta to come out and play it. However, one of the Viking defenders mishandled it and prevented his netminder from making the stop.

With that disappeared what little momentum the visitors still had.

Washington scored four more times in the final five minutes of the first half. Ruiz scored a header on another throw in. The Vikings struggled to clear another corner, which allowed Jimenez to complete his hat trick.

Holt McKeithen earned his third assist when he tossed another throw into the box, which Zack Pagnani headed in. Hodges scored in the final minute to give the Pam Pack an 8-0 lead going into halftime.

Oscar Espinoza, a junior varsity player, put an end to the game six minutes into the second half. His goal was gave Washington the 9-0 lead it needed to earn the win via mercy rule.

Washington’s dominance yielded a playoff rarity. Most of its starters were able to come off the field before the end of the first half. That, as well as wrapping things up minutes into the second half, allows the Pam Pack to conserve their energy.

It also gives the team’s younger players valuable playoff experience.

“We were hoping that we’d be able to do it tonight,” Kozuch said. “Having a nice lead gave us the chance to get those guys an opportunity to play. They actually moved the ball around really well. It’s nice to see some promising signs for next year. Of course, we’re not looking past anything, but there’s going to be another year again next year.”

Washington is set to host its second-round match up on Saturday.