TALLMADGE — Since the season began, Steve Davis has worn many hats.
If he had his choice, he would prefer to wear just one.
"I find myself to be a cheerleader, a coach, a navigator and all that," the Tallmadge head girls soccer coach said. "That’s a little too much."
On Monday, Davis found himself playing a wide variety of roles to inspire his somewhat lackadaisical teenagers.
He didn’t particularly care for the heavy workload.
"The players have to take care of that for themselves," Davis said.
It took a little fire and brimstone, but the Blue Devils eventually obeyed their coach’s command.
Perhaps coincidentally, they got their first win of the season, as well.
Host Tallmadge improved to 1-3 overall after earning a 4-1 victory over Alliance at Tallmadge Blue Devils Stadium.
Oddly enough, one could make a strong argument the Blue Devils took care of their foremost priorities before a number of spectators got cozy in their seats.
Less than five minutes into the game, Tallmadge built a 3-0 lead.
It started with a through ball by Farrah Heestand to Halle Caruso just 27 seconds into the game.
Heestand’s pass found Caruso’s feet on the left side of the field. Caruso ran onto the ball, took a couple of dribbles and blasted a shot into the net for a 1-0 Blue Devils’ lead.
It didn’t stop there.
Just 30 seconds later, Tallmadge got a second goal, thanks to a sister connection.
Julia Onchak scored after receiving a through ball from Natalie Onchak in the middle of the field.
The goal-scoring jamboree continued a little less than four minutes later.
This time, Caruso found the net with her left foot off a cross from Natalie Onchak on the right side.
So why was Davis so crabby just as the Blue Devils unleashed their biggest explosion of the season? Let’s just say their offense cooled off rather noticeably. As a matter of fact, it cooled off quite considerably.
"Scoring goals was a good thing," Davis said. "We were excited to do that, but then the team kind of started to self-destruct. We don’t know how to manage that situation."
The Aviators, who entered the game with a 6-0 record, gained some much-needed momentum with several relentless invasions late in the first half.
Thankfully, Tallmadge goalkeeper Maryn Montgomery neutralized those meddlesome onslaughts by making five very important saves. She also rushed significantly far out of her own net to clear the ball with her powerful right foot.
A number of times, Montgomery blasted the ball away from serious harm just a split second before an Alliance attacker got close.
Too close for at least one particular individual.
"I was not pleased at halftime," Davis said. "I thought we were letting a team come back into it. We thought we could cruise and that was a big mistake."
The momentum seemed to really shift when the Aviators cut their deficit to 3-1 a little more than eight minutes into the second half.
The play started when Cayla Mandy found Neveah Russell in the middle of the field. Russell won a foot race to the ball and finished against Blue Devils’ backup goalie Ellie Hudak, who didn’t have much of a chance.
However, the message started to sink in just when mass chaos seemed inevitable. And just like that, all was well on North Munroe Road.
Tallmadge discovered its once nonexistent sense of urgency and dictated play the rest of the match. A senior four-year player put matters to rest rather emphatically.
Kate Hussing broke free on the right side and wound up drilling a bullet into the opposite side of the net with 6 minutes, 22 seconds remaining.
More importantly, the goal demolished any traces of a potentially catastrophic letdown.
"I was very pleased with the second half," Davis said. "I thought even though we only scored one goal, we played much better."
Tallmadge had an 11-7 advantage in shots on goal and a 6-0 edge in corner kicks. Alliance goalkeeper Corryne Phillips made nine saves.
Davis singled out a few unsung heroines, who persevered quite nicely just when the Blue Devils appeared to be falling apart.
"We had some good moments from older players who kind of stepped up," Davis said. "I was happy to see Sydney Marcum work really hard in that second half.
"Claire [Breiding] is just rock-solid in the back. She made some big, strong tackles. She’s just so strong as a center back and consistent.
"Maddie Davis had a good game too. She kept stepping up and intercepting balls."
The veteran coach hopes to decrease his workload in the future. From now on, he’ll strive to be a single-skilled specialist rather than a factotum.
In other words, think Sir Alex Ferguson instead of Paula Abdul or Ferdinand Magellan.
"The best thing for a coach is to be able to sit on the sidelines and not say a word," Davis said. "That’s what you would like to do. Just be able to sit and watch and make little minor adjustments. That would be ideal."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.