Butler's Aden Llewellyn (5) battles for possession against Shaler´s Luke Warren during the Golden Tornado's 3-1 boys soccer victory at Art Bernardi Stadium.
STEVEN DALTON/SPECIAL TO THE EAGLE
BUTLER TWP — For the better part of 47 minutes, the Butler boys soccer team asserted its dominance against Shaler.
The Golden Tornado built a sizable 3-0 lead and it could have been larger. Butler had misfired early on several other opportunities.
Meanwhile, Shaler's offense was stagnant.
But over the final 33 minutes, the Titans tested Butler and threatened to turn what looked like a relatively easy section-opening win at Art Bernardi Stadium into white-knuckle time.
Butler, though, was able to hold off Shaler for a 3-1 victory.
“When it was 3-0, we were in complete control of the game,” said Butler coach Troy Mohney. “Then we make a stupid foul.”
Shaler's Jake Klonowski capitalized on that Butler mistake and hit a perfect arching shot from 35 yards out that found the top of the net to cut Butler's lead to two goals.
The Titans had several chances to cut that Butler advantage to one, but the Tornado dodged bullet after bullet.
It left Mohney with mixed emotions.
“Once they got the goal, our reaction to that has to be better,” Mohney said. “We tried to dribble through the whole team the next time we had the ball. We needed to calm down and try to keep the ball away. We have to get a little bit better. We'll move forward from it. It's a win.”
Emery Douthett gave Butler a 1-0 lead in the 26th minute with a header off a crossing pass from Landon Mohney.
Just four minutes later, Ian Llewellyn made it 2-0.
Luca Fusca wasted little time for Butler to begin the second half with the Golden Tornado's third goal in the 47th minute.
Butler (2-0, 1-0) had just two more shots on goal the rest of the match.
Meanwhile, Shaler (0-2, 0-1) shook off its first-half doldrums and played much more aggressively.
“It killed us,” said Shaler coach Adam Hunter of the 3-0 hole his team fell into. “We've stressed getting off to a quick start and in our game against Bethel Park on Saturday we did have a quick start — we had a shot on goal and scored in the first 35 seconds. Tonight, I don't know if it was the trip out here or the start of section play ... they really dominated the first half.”
While it was early September and the first section match of the season, it wasn't played like one.
It was played more like a tense matchup in late October.
The match was physical — and chippy — at times with several yellow cards handed out.
“We have a couple guys who have some testosterone,” Mohney said. “We're trying to work on that. It's one thing to stick up for teammates. It's another thing to take it too far.”
Hunter said the physical style of play may be the norm in the section this season.
“There was a lot of intensity,” Hunter said. “It looked like a later-season game. In the second half we got our heads on and started playing with a lot more passion.”
Butler will host Central Catholic Thursday on the grass field at the Butler Intermediate school.
Mohney said it's a completely different game of soccer on the grass field as opposed to the turf of Art Bernardi Stadium.
“We like to put some passes together, which is much easier to do on a turf field that is flat than to go over there on a grass field with a huge crown on it,” Mohney said. “It'll be an adjustment for us, just as it will be for Central.”