WINSTED >> The heat played a major factor in the season opener for both the Northwestern Highlanders and the Litchfield Cowboys, but it was the Highlanders that came away with an easy 6-0 win.
“We played all 24 guys, it was hot and humid,” said Northwestern head coach Andrew Campbell. “We knew we could press, because we knew we would play all 24 guys.”
The Cowboys didn’t have the same luxury who played with a very small bench.
“We didn’t handle the heat as well as they did,” said Litchfield head coach Rob Andrulis. “We came out flat.”
With the heat being as high as 90 degrees Campbell game planned around it.
“Credit to the players,” he said. “None of them played more than 10 minutes straight, we planned ahead. They accepted it, they didn’t see it as they weren’t going to be playing, they saw it as an advantage.”
It was definitely an advantage as the Highlanders scored four goals in the first half on their first four shots of the game.
“We’ve had trouble scoring in the preseason,” said Campbell. “None of those were cheap today.”
Once the Highlanders scored they kept attacking, totaling 20 shots in the game.
“We came out strong, maybe there was some intimidation,” said Highlander captain, Alec Royer. “We hustled really hard, we played hard and won.”
Sophomore Garrett Healy got the Highlanders on the board first, which was then followed with goals by Mike Carter, Will Scharnberg and David Kittredge.
“They hit their first four shots,” said Andrulis. “It’s hard to come back from that.”
Overshadowed by the high scoring first half was the Highlanders defense that was able to contain the Cowboys speedy offense, which had only 10 shots all game.
“They tried to play the long ball, we had more speed and were more physical today,” said defender Carter Throne-Kaunelis, captain for the Highlanders.
The Highlanders out ran the Cowboys on almost every opportunity they had.
“We played solid enough to contain them,” said Alan Colombie, another defender and captain for Northwestern.
In the second half the Cowboys fared better, creating scoring chances but with no success.
“In the second half we were pushing,” said Andrulis. “Our guys were gassed.”
“They had a couple of good chances and they just couldn’t finish,” said Campbell.
The Highlanders got two second half goals from junior Zach Tuxbury to cap off their dominate performance in the season opener.
“We’re one of the deepest teams in the league,” said Colombie. “We’re going to compete to win this league.”
Litchfield on the other hand will shake this game off and get ready for the rest of the season.
“I’m not disappointed,” said Andrulis. “It’s the first game I can’t complain.”
Northwestern 6 Litchfield 0
At Northwestern High School
Northwestern 4 2 -6
Litchfield 0 0 -0
Goals: NW-Zach Tuxbury 2; Garrett Healey; Mike Carter; William Scharnberg; David Kittredge. Assists: NW-Zach Tuxbury; Evan Dolecki; Healey; Will Scharnberg; Winter Thorne-Kaneulis.
Records: Northwestern 1-0, Litchfield 0-1.