STOW — The rivalry is fierce between Kent Roosevelt and Stow-Munroe Falls boys soccer, but Rough Riders coach Kiel Cox and Bulldogs coach Kyle Kosmala are old friends.
After Stow routed Roosevelt 6-2 Saturday night at Bulldog Stadium, Cox could do little but tip his cap to his old friend and his team.
"There’s so many good players on that team," Cox said of the Bulldogs. "This is the best Stow team I’ve seen in a long time. Kyle and I are friends, so I know (if) the result was reversed, he’d be over here encouraging us. At the end of the day, we just got beat."
Stow midfielder Corey Hunt had a hat trick, including converting a penalty kick. Hunt also had an assist and a yellow card in the win.
"I’m grateful for Kosmala giving me the freedom to do what I can up top," Hunt said. "It’s not just me. We got a lot of great guys. It’s a team effort."
Kosmala noted he was going to be sad to see Hunt graduate, given his importance to the team.
"It’s nice to see him get that penalty kick," Kosmala said of Hunt. "He was in the right place all night."
Hunt opened the scoring in the second minute of the game, as he and winger Kyle Sommer sprinted to the end line and slid him a pass in the six box, which Hunt pumped in.
Roosevelt’s high-pressing style of defense was rendered ineffective by Stow’s team speed and foot skills. The Bulldogs finished with a 10-4 edge in shots on goal and 7-4 edge in corner kicks.
"Last Saturday against Anthony Wayne, we got away from our game plan a little bit and started putting long balls up," Kosmala said. "We focused on trying to play the two-touch game. Tuesday night [against Wadsworth] and tonight, I think we did a much better job of it."
In the 34th minute, Stow forward Tristen Mattson found space at the top of the box and smashed a shot past Roosevelt keeper Johnny Burroughs. Burroughs, who was filling in for starting goalkeeper Nate Montanari, finished with four saves.
"We’re missing one of our best players and we’re down to our backup keeper," Cox said. "It has to be ‘Next man up’ for us."
Hunts scored on a nice cut into the box in the 50th minute and then converted the penalty kick in the 55th minute to complete his hat trick.
Two minutes later, Hunt stole the ball, fed a perfect through ball into the box and senior Nathan Kolke smashed it into the net to make it 5-0.
Kosmala emptied his bench after the fifth goal and Roosevelt got two goals back against the Bulldog reserves. In the 72nd minute, a corner kick from Andrew Martin was headed home by Roosevelt freshman Reese Campana.
One minute later, Roosevelt junior Gabe Gaines scored on a slow roller past Stow backup keeper Joe Gresser.
However, any hope of a miracle comeback for Roosvelt ended in the 76th minute, as Stow junior John Czerwony got his first varsity goal, bending a shot inside the left post.
Kosmala said his team did a good job adjusting to the wet conditions and playing on the fast artificial turf at Bulldog Stadium.
"The turf helped tonight," Kosmala said. "We did a great job with our passing."
Stow will return to action Tuesday at home vs. Nordonia at 7 p.m.
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, firstname.lastname@example.org or @MLeonard_RPC