BY AARON SNYDER
THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
FLATWOODS As Nolan Sabotchick jogged back onto the pitch for a postgame interview, one of his pals yelled, “region player of the year!”
Tidying up around the Red Devils’ bench on the opposite sideline, Russell coach Randy Vanover responded, “He’d have my vote!”
Sabotchick delivered a dynamite performance. He dizzied the Dawgs of Lawrence County with four goals as Russell notched a 4-2 victory on Monday.
One of four seniors, Sabotchick netted his first two goals in a 23-second span. He scored in the third and fourth minutes.
Nathan Perry assisted Sabotchick’s first tally.
On the second score, Sabotchick carved out a path between a pair of Bulldogs after two other Lawrence County players collided with one another to free up the path.
“My teammates got a really good pass to me on the first one,” Sabotchick said. “The second one was just really unfortunate for the other team, and I was just able to score.”
Sabotchick has packed 28 goals into 14 games.
Red Devils coach Randy Vanover has placed an emphasis on Sabotchick’s sideline time recently, he said. Of course, acknowledged the coach, with rain preventing the Devils from playing since Sept. 20, Sabotchick was plenty rested for the first day of October.
“I’ve been trying to do a better job of keepinghim a little more fresh,” Vanover said. “He’s fresh, and I’d go to battle with that guy any day.”
Sabotchick extended Russell’s lead to 3-0. Stemming from another assist by Perry, Sabotchick gathered the ball near the left side of the goal box, turned and fired a left-toright sizzler with his left foot. Just 20 minutes in, he had a hat trick.
Senior Night had the adrenaline flowing a little more steadily, Sabotchick said.
“Senior Night means a lot to me,” he said. “We got our teammates hyped up and we were just ready to go. We came out with fire and got off to a good start.”
Sabotchick said he works diligently on close touches every day, “even if it’s by myself,” he added. The practice paid off when he navigated through heavy traffic, knifing his way to a fourth goal during the 49th minute.
“Sabotchick’s a beast,” said Lawrence County coach Scott Johnson. “We knew that coming in we’d have to keep an eye on him. He’s slick.”
Sabotchick exited for a brief breather in the first half after absorbing a hard collision that left him with a busted nose.
About that time, Lawrence County (10-3-1) nearly got on the board on a shot attempt by Trevor Brooks. However, Joe Ewing deflected the missile and it sailed over the crossbar.
Tyler Maynard recorded the first of his goals with just two minutes remaining in the first half.
He supplied Luke Johnson with a precise pass, but Johnson’s shot bounced off Ewing. Maynard picked up the ricochet and sent it through. Maynard, who wears No. 2, scored again during the 56th minute.
Alex Ratliff provided an assist.
“They got a real special player over there,” Vanover referred to Maynard. “Overall, my main message to (Russell’s defenders) was to not let ‘2’ receive the ball. A couple times, he did, and he hurt us.”
Johnson said outside of the first three-plus minutes, “it’s a 2-2 game.”
“We looked sloppy, especially in the first three minutes,” Johnson said.
“But I look at teams like Russell, and other teams in this (16th) region — they’re big, physical boys. We’re starting five freshmen, so we’re losing a lot in the physicality.”
The first-year program closed the book on what Johnson deemed a successful regular season.
The Bulldogs will compete in the 58th District Tournament next week.
Russell (7-7) will try to match its longest winning streak of the season when it visits Spring Valley today at 6 p.m.
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