ONEIDA | The Indians defended their home pitch well Tuesday (March 21) evening, defeating Clinton 5-0 at Jane Terry Hoffman Field in the season's home opener.
The Indians jumped out to a 4-0 lead, and cruised to the 5-0 victory even without one of their top offensive weapons in junior Mason Keeton, who is nursing an injured hamstring.
“The defense played fantastic and we never felt threatened,” Oneida coach Derek Keeton said. “We generated 12 shots on goal and scored on four of those. They only got three shots on goal and all three saves were pretty easy to handle because of the good defense in front of (Gavin Keeton) played by Wes Hurst, Reice Kennedy, Wyatt Yancey and Isaac Martin specifically.
Nick Gilbert scored two goals in the first half, and wound up finishing with a hat trick.
“Nick has worked tremendously in the offseason and it's paying off,” Keeton said. “I'm very proud of that young man and what he's done with his body and also his skillset.”
Also scoring for Oneida were Levi James and Grady Keeton.
Luke Barna assisted all five of the Indians' goals.
“Nick Gilbert getting three goals and Luke Barna getting five assists was amazing for our team this evening,” Keeton said.
Clinton is an improved team, Keeton said, with a good coach (Gene Chunn) who is doing a good job of rebuilding the program.
But, on Tuesday, the Dragons were no match for the Indians. They managed just two shots on goal in the second half.
“Our defense played outstanding,” Keeton said. “I was pleased to be able to play everyone tonight and get some good quality minutes for all of the available players.”
Keeton applauded the play of several first-year players, including Grady Keeton, Alex Torres and Ben Gilbert. He was also pleased with the play of veterans like James, George Kline and Sam Bell.
“With Mason being out with a slightly pulled hamstring, it allowed for other guys to step up and fill the void until he returns in the next week or so,” Keeton said.