Sterlington 7, Ouachita Christian 1
Led by Cooper Grunsky's quadruple, the Sterlington Panthers cruised to a decisive 7-1 verdict over visiting Ouachita Christian on Tuesday night.
Oren Keller's struck an angled shot from the left side into the far corner of the net to open the scoring in the third minute.
Goalie Carter Autin did well to keep the Eagles in the game for the better part of the first half.
Duke Villarreal pelted a shot off the right post before Autin denied Grunsky on a breakaway.
Twelve minutes expired before Sterlington keeper Matthew Husser touched the ball for the first time on a one-hopper off of a throw-in.
Over the next four minutes Autin stopped Grunsky twice — on a sprawling save from 22 yards out and a shot from straightaway.
Keller narrowly missed his second goal when his shot caromed off the football crossbar.
Moments later, Grunsky's header off of a Villarreal cross went wide right.
Mounting a rare counter, OCS leveled in the 24th minute on Andrew Beatty's direct free kick into the upper right side of the net.
Three minutes later, the Eagles had an opportunity to take the lead when a shot rolled in front of the net and Austin Booth cleared a second attempt.
Sterlington coach Kyle Keyes praised the winless Eagles (0-9) for their effort in general, and their coach in particular.
"Knute Goings is doing a fantastic job," Keyes said. "He is keeping the program alive. He's such a good guy. I can't say enough good things about him. I would encourage the kids over there to play for this guy because they will learn a lot of life lessons from him."
Sterlington soon re-established control of the match, though Carter stopped Grunsky's left-footed roller and James David Miller turned away a shot from Ty Dycus.
Blake Stevens restored the Panthers' lead in the 35th minute with a volley from the left side off of a pass from Ethan Thames.
With nothing to show for multiple chances, Grunsky's work began to pay off. After banging a shot off the left post, Grunsky poked in his own rebound, enabling the Panthers to carry a 3-1 advantage into the pause.
Sterlington out-shot the Eagles 21-4 through the first 40 minutes.
"We experimented with some guys up top because we have been struggling to finish," Sterlington coach Kyle Keyes said. "We were getting frustrated because we were getting so many shots, and they weren't going in. We saw fruits of the decision in the second half."
Grunsky opened the second half scoring in the 49th minute when he deposited a direct kick high into the left side of the net.
Less than a minute later, Grunsky notched his third goal from 23 yards out to put the Panthers in control 5-1.
Cooper Reese and Grunsky completed the scoring.
Placing 16 shots on target, the Panthers out-shot the Eagles 34-6.
Aside from the free kick, Husser had an uneventful night before yielding the net to Colby Rivera with six minutes remaining.
"Matthew Husser doesn't get much action with our defense, but his presence alone back there is big for us," Keyes said.
Led by Connor Bolin and Booth, the Panthers held the Eagles to just one shot on net.
"It was a team effort. Everybody got on the field," Keyes said. "Everybody did their job like they were supposed to. The only goal we gave up was a good shot. I told them after the game that they were getting no complaints out of me as a coach."
Along with improving to 3-0 Division 2, District IV play, the Panthers (8-2-4) maintained their place atop the Ouachita Parish Cup table.
"We're still leading the Parish Cup. It's ours to lose," said Keyes, whose side has fixtures remaining with West Monroe and St. Frederick. "Neville and West Monroe are nipping at our heels waiting for somebody to knock us off."
Sterlington closes out the week on the road with stops in Ferriday vs. conference rival Delta Charter on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and DeRidder on Saturday at 2 p.m.
OCS ........................ SHS
6 ...... Shots ................ 34
1 ...... Shots on target ... 6
6 ...... Corner kicks ...... 8
0 ...... Offsides ............. 2
3 ...... Fouls ................. 2
0 ...... Cards ................. 0