Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
Southern Ohio Sports Authority is presented by OhioHealth.
CHILLICOTHE — Unioto’s Lucas Hanes waited more than nine months to terrorize opposing defenses again.
But now that his junior season has started, he’s picked up right where he left off last fall.
Hanes’ magical right foot was up to its old tricks — hat tricks to be specific — on Thursday as his three scores paced his Shermans (2-0) to a 4-1 win over Chillicothe in non-league action.
“We’re somewhat restarting with a new coach and a new team. We’ve had to fill a couple of spots,” Hanes said. “But we’ve filled those and we’re looking better and better every day.”
As Hanes mentioned, Unioto first-year coach Freddy Cortez is off to a great start.
After earning his first career coaching win in a 5-0 victory at Hillsboro on Monday, he guided his team to Thursday’s win over an always formidable Cavalier program in a rivalry match.
“The one thing that we’ve been preaching since the summertime is that there’s always got to be that next-man up mentality,” Cortez said. “The guys showed a lot of guts tonight, simply because I challenged them after Monday and told them that there needed to be more leadership. I think they did a really good job of playing their role and helping others around them.”
The game’s first 30 minutes was played at a dead-heat pace with neither team finding an offensive rhythm.
Hanes ended the stalemate with a goal off an assist from both Cameron Thompson and JC Stark at the 7:38 mark, giving the Shermans a 1-0 lead heading into halftime.
“[The first goal] means everything,” Hanes said. “It gets your momentum up and you just start going. After that first half, we knew the first five minutes of the second half were going to be crazy. So we knew we had to go into the half strong. That’s what we did.”
It took Hanes less time to score the match’s next two goals than it did for fans to walk to the concession stand and back.
His first strike came with 38:42 remaining, thanks to an assist from Kamden Smith, before he scored again with 37:10 left, via Stark’s second assist of the evening, to complete the hat trick.
That was more than enough cushion for Unioto’s pesky defense to keep Chillicothe (1-1) at bay.
“Everybody knows Lucas but for me, [defender] Cameron [Thompson] is right up there as an overall soccer player and as an athlete,” Cortez said. “He’s been helping coach multiple first-year varsity starters back there. Then, we have another guy in Ricardo [Arredondo] that runs the wing better than anybody I’ve seen do it at the high school level. We take a lot of pride in that back line, understanding their positioning and helping each other out. They mastered it tonight.”
Chillicothe’s lone goal of the night came off sophomore Carter Dunfee’s foot, which cut Unioto’s lead to 3-1 with 32:22 left in regulation. Then, with forty-five seconds left, Smith rounded out the night’s final with a beautiful, bending shot on a free kick.
The Shermans are back in action on Saturday, hosting Amanda-Clearceek, while Chillicothe attempts to bounce back on Thursday at McClain.
“This is a great win. This is a great stepping stone. But that’s not our goal,” Cortez said. “Our ultimate goal is to get back to the Final 4. Games like this bring a lot of confidence to a lot of the younger guys and to our starting eleven. You cannot teach experience and once you start getting your eleven guys on the same path with confidence, it’s hard to stop a moving train.”