Luis Off’s 4 goals leads Manistee boys soccer to resounding 8-0 district win

 

Manistee’s Elmo Sarabia (10) sprints past Mason County Central’s Joe Businski (8) during the Chippewas’ 8-0 mercy-rule win over the Spartans in the first game of the Division 3 boys soccer district tournament on Monday. Sarabia scored three goals in the game. (Scott Yoshonis/News Advocate)

Manistee’s Elmo Sarabia (10) sprints past Mason County Central’s Joe Businski (8) during the Chippewas’ 8-0 mercy-rule win over the Spartans in the first game of the Division 3 boys soccer district tournament on Monday. Sarabia scored three goals in the game. (Scott Yoshonis/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — To say that Manistee boys soccer is peaking at the right time would be something of an understatement.

After struggling to score goals for much of the season, the Chippewas broke out of their drought with an 8-0 win over Mason County Central in the first game of the Division 3 state tournament on Monday.

Luis Off scored four goals and Elmo Sarabia added 3 in the game, which was shortened by mercy rule.

Manistee coach Brandon Prince said that the big win served to convince his team that it could go on and win the district title, which the Chippewas last accomplished in 2008.

“We knew it before,” Prince said. “I said before we left the locker room that there is only one team that’s going to beat us tonight, and that’s ourselves. We’ve done it time and time again. We’ve got to put that team away, and it looks like we did.”

Manistee completely dominated the Spartans (5-14) from start to finish, but it took a bit of a lucky break to get the ball rolling.

After peppering the Central goal in the first 15 minutes of the game with nothing to show for it, Simon Dovren finally found the back of the net from about 20 yards out, helped by a fortunate deflection off of Spartan defender Josefath Cabral that sent keeper Ian Gray the wrong way and made the score 1-0 with 26:35 left in the first half.

Off notched his first of the contest almost exactly 10 minutes later, when Sarabia sent him into the right-wing side of the box. Off’s blast slipped through Gray’s grasp at the near post with 16:45 left.

Dovren set up the third Chippewa goal when he sent Off in on a clean breakaway with just over 15 minutes left in the half, and the calm finish gave Gray no chance and made the halftime score 3-0.

Off was quick to give his team credit.

“The goals are my job, but I can’t score goals by myself, I need the whole team to score goals,” Off said. “I love the team, it’s so perfect. They’ve all been so friendly, it makes my job a lot easier.”

Sarabia scored his first less than five minutes after the break, when Dovren sent him in clean over the top. Sarabia’s first-time touch from about 12 yards out made the score 4-0.

Off completed his hat trick just 20 seconds later, assisted by Emil Kallio, to make the score 5-0 with 35:18 left on the clock.

But the game would not last that long, thanks to two more goals by Sarabia, one of those on a penalty kick, and another by Off that ended the contest by mercy rule with 16:17 left on the clock.

“We couldn’t generate a lot of offense,” Central coach Scott Scheffler said. “We tried changing up a little bit, but in the second half we had to try to push forward a little bit more and we got caught on the back end.”

Prince said that goal scoring has been a point of emphasis in the last few practices.

“We worked a lot of hours in the last two days on finishing, in all different aspects of the game. It’s still not the best,” Prince said. “It’s just confidence over the ball. We’ve done a lot of talking in the last three days, and this is where we’re at.”

Senior captain Jared Wrzesinski said that the pieces are starting to fall into place for a deep tournament run.

“I don’t think it was a whole lot different from what we’ve been doing,” Wrzesinski said. “We’ve seen bits and pieces of what we did today, it’s all been there recently, it was just putting it together and being on top of our game. The skill is there, it’s just progress before perfection. Today is where we’ve started to perfect it.”

Prince was worried after the game about the team getting too overconfident, but Wrzesinski said that the players are not.

“We always know where we came from,” he said. “Two or three years ago, we’d be getting mercied, we’ve been in this position and we know what it’s like.

“There are teams out there who are going to give us a run for our money, and we’ll see them as we go further into the tournament.”

With the win, Manistee advances to a Wednesday district semifinal game against Reed City for the right to face either Traverse City Christian or Benzie Central for the district title at Kingsley on Saturday.

That game will kick off at Chippewa Field at 4:30 p.m.

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Posted by Scott Yoshonis

Scott is the sports editor of the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach him at (231) 398-3112 or syoshonis@pioneergroup.com.

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