BETHEL — The gauntlet has been thrown down.
Already perfect on the young season, the Barlow boys soccer team made its biggest statement yet, as a 4-0 rout of Bethel Tuesday at Rourke Field cemented the Falcons (7-0-0) as SWC title contenders.
Grayson DiMiceli and Pablo Correa scored goals 3:48 apart early in the first half to set the early tone, and Jack Warren and Atticus Upson added goals in the second to complete the win.
The Falcons didn’t generate a lot of scoring opportunities, but expertly finished the ones they got against Bethel (4-2-1).
“For the first time we were very clinical in front of goal,” Barlow coach Paul Winstanley said. “I think we had five really good chances, and scored four of them. I was very pleased with the boys; I told them this was going to be a top-level opponent and they answered the bell.”
Barlow scored on its first two shots as DiMiceli capitalized on a through ball off a quick move from midfield to finish low into the corner of the net. Less than four minutes later, Correa doubled the advantage in similar fashion.
The hosts — who suffered minor injuries to several of their top players — generated opportunities after falling behind 2-0, including one on a free kick that was shot right at Falcons goalie Jackson Stalowir. More players were sent forward to try to generate offense, and Barlow capitalized on the break to finish off the match late on.
“We play a defensive system by design and we got a lot of people behind the ball,” Winstanley said. “It would require a major mistake or Bethel came up with a wonderful combination to get in, and that’s hard to do at the professional level.”
Stalowir earned the shutout with six saves. Both coaches echoed that the two may see each other in the postseason, just like they did in the 2014 and 2015 SWC title games.
Trailing 2-0 entering the second half, the Wildcats came out and gave one final scare to the visitors. Bethel (4-2-1) drew a penalty kick for a golden chance to halve the deficit, but the ensuing shot was blasted wide of Stalowir’s goal.
“It could have swung all the momentum in our favor if we scored that,” Bethel coach Tony Fernandes said. “I’m not going to say we’re going to win the game but it changes things. But (Barlow) had chances in front of the goal and buried them.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jack Warren, Barlow: The midfielder had a pinpoint pass to set up the opener, and added a goal in the second half.
“We had the ball enough and created enough chances to score some goals,” Fernandes said. “We obviously have to clean up some of the mistakes that resulted in their goals. They were clinical in front of the goal, and we weren’t.”
BARLOW 4, BETHEL 0
Records: Barlow 7-0-0, Bethel 4-2-1.
Goals: Barlow—Jack Warren, Atticus Upson, Grayson DiMiceli, Pablo Correa, Assists: Barlow—Warren, Correa, Anthony Paolini. Goalies: Barlow— Jackson Stalowir (6 saves); Bethel—Liam Ford (2) Shots: Barlow—8; Bethel—9.