PEOTONE — After the first day of the boys soccer season, it’s safe to say Peotone’s Justin Marevka leads the area in scoring.
The senior forward scored five goals— recording a hat trick in the first 17 minutes to lead the Blue Devils to a 7-1 victory against Bishop McNamara on Monday.
“Justin understands the game so well, and it’s weird to think about your forward being a coach on the field, but he really is because he just knows the game and knows where to be,” Blue Devils coach Justin Meyers said. “He’s at the right spot at the right time, and he’s sure to make it hurt when it happens.”
By the time sophomore Toby Cann drilled a penalty kick and Marevka tickled the twine for the fourth time, the Blue Devils found themselves ahead 5-0 at halftime of Meyers’ coaching debut.
But the Irish had some good looks early on. Ben Kuntz was robbed of an early goal by a brilliant Ian Hamann save, and three other Irish shots were denied by the goalpost in the first half.
“If we score that one right away, we’re up one-nill, or when it was 2-0, we had one off the post, and a 2-1 game would have been a lot different there,” Irish coach Marty Ruberry, making his coaching debut, said. “It was 7-1, but it didn’t feel like a 7-1 game.”
Three of those four Irish chances came within the first 25 minutes. It didn’t take long for Meyers and his defense to adjust to the deep passes the Irish were trying to loft ahead to the speedy Kuntz.
“I told my backs to play off a bit because in open space, we would be able to stay in front, but they could beat us in a foot race,” Meyers said. “We have two good senior leaders back there [Dylan Bettenhausen and Joey Coulter] that I trust.”
Offensively, the Blue Devils were about a lot more than Marevka.
Darragh Jeffery had a goal and an assist, and Bart Budz set Marevka up beautifully on his second goal. Each Blue Devil goal, save for the Cann penalty kick, was assisted by a different player.
“Honestly, it’s what we wanted to see,” Meyers said. “We moved the ball really well ... and I was really impressed with our guys today.”
While Ruberry said the overall takeaway for his team was a positive, he also said there were some things that need attention as the Irish begin their season, particularly defensively.
“We pushed the ball forward well, but it’s the other half that we need to get better at,” Ruberry said. “Tracking back defensively, staying with runners and things like that.”
The Irish look for their first win of the season when they host Wilmington at 4:30 Wednesday. The Blue Devils start their conference slate with a home game against Plano at 4:30 before hosting Bradley-Bourbonnais at the same time Friday.
“I told the kids to ice what they need to ice because it’s going to be a long season, with a lot of stretches like this of game after game, and they need to come out with the same intensity,” Meyers said. “There’s a lot of strong competition in our conference, and, of course, we’ll be amped up to play Bradley.”