When the 80th minute ticked off the scoreboard at Charles A. Lawson Field following the Southwestern Trojans' 7-0 victory over Falconer, coach Mark Sleggs gave his squad some much deserved time to celebrate.
Goalie Tyler Cappa raised his arms in triumph, and the rest of the group sprinted out to midfield to hug and congratulate one another.
But when the team regathered at the bench to listen to Sleggs' postgame talk, he quickly reminded them that their work is far from over.
Southwestern’s Tanner Hoose, right, leaps high in an effort to head the ball toward the net, but Falconer goalie Trevor Dykstra successfully thwarts the attempt during Tuesday’s Division 1 soccer game at Charles A. Lawson Field. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J?photos by Rob Tucker
It fact, it's just beginning.
"Somebody once said to me that I never really seem excited," Sleggs said, "but it's just that I feel like my work is not done. I feel like I've got too much more to do as a coach."
Though there remains much to do, Sleggs and his Trojans did accomplish a few goals that they've been after for quite some time: a league title and the right to host a home playoff game.
The title was the Trojans' (13-2-1) first since 2000, and the first that Sleggs can remember in which his team earned it by going undefeated (9-0-1) in league play. Though the seedings meeting isn't until Saturday, Sleggs foresees Southwestern being awarded the No. 2 seed in Class B-2 and with a game against either Fredonia, Westfield or Wilson on Oct. 26 at 6:30 p.m.
"We're very humbled to be where we're at right now," Sleggs said. "I think the guys have certainly played well enough to have this happen to them. Our motto this whole season is 'Hunting from a different tree stand.'
"Our whole approach this year has been different than in years past, and I think that's made all the difference."
It certainly did on Tuesday evening.
Southwestern poured on shot after shot after shot against the visiting Golden Falcons (1-13-1, 1-8-1) on the way to scoring five goals in the first half alone. Tanner Hoose got things started in the seventh minute when defenseman Tyler Bell boomed a kick from his own end that bounced over the Falconer defenders to a streaking Hoose, who fired a shot past goalkeeper Trevor Dykstra.
Thirteen minutes later Ross Beresford scored the first of this three goals from Tristan Desnerck, and then Desnerck, looking to get in on the action as well, netted a pair of goals - the first on a penalty kick - within 30 seconds of one another to push the Trojans' lead to an insurmountable 4-0.
"They are really starting to see it," Sleggs said of his team's understanding of his new system, "but I don't think you ever really think that you're there. We're just trying to move in the right direction and we've certainly had our fair share of bumps in the road, but we have a strong faith and belief in what we're doing."
Riley Rybicki tallied his fifth goal of the season, unassisted, with 10 minutes left in the opening half and then Beresford found the back of the net twice in the final 25 minutes of the second.
All together, Southwestern racked up 17 shots on goal in the opening 40 minutes, and finished with 25 total.
Part of the offensive outburst, Sleggs noted, was the squad's desire to finish Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association play undefeated.
"I think it was the moment," he said. "We have won the league here at Southwestern before, but I can't tell you off-hand if we've ever gone undefeated, so that was the impetus for today."
Falconer, meanwhile, could muster just four shots on goal.