BY MATTHEW SPARKS
THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
Russell goalkeeper Joe Ewing dives for a ball before Ashland's Landon Howell can put a shot toward the goal on Tuesday. Russell won, 5-3.
MATT JONES | THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
FLATWOODS Sam Ewing is the focal point of the Russell offense on the pitch.
Just don’t forget about Nolan Sabotchick.
The junior matched his teammate with two first-half goals as the Red Devils notched a 5-3 victory over Ashland at the Russell Soccer Complex on Tuesday night.
Sabotchick increased his season tally to seven goals. He even assisted on one of Ewing’s goals.
“Nolan has stepped it up this year,” Russell coach Marty Torgrimson said. “He still gets way too anxious, but he has become an important part of our 1-2 punch (with Ewing).”
Russell (3-3-1) turned up the aggressiveness, leading to several scoring opportunities in the first 40 minutes. Torgrimson was pleased with his team’s energy level after suffering a district loss to Boyd County last Thursday night.
“It was a better effort on our part,” Torgrimson said. “We had a willingness to play harder for whatever reason than we did last Thursday.”
Ewing put the Red Devils on the board first with a penalty kick in the 14th minute after the Tomcats were assessed a foul inside the box.
Sabotchick rewarded Ewing with a well-placed pass after he got a step on his defender for a second goal and a quick 2-0 lead.
The scoring came in rapid fashion over the next 10 minutes. Blaine Collins recorded Ashland’s first goal off a free kick near midfield.
Sabotchick found the back of net twice in quick succession. He rebounded his own shot for his first goal and was quick to react when the ball stopped in front of the net. It halted in a collection of water after the heavy rains of the day, and he knocked it inside right post.
Andre Donaldson netted another for the Tomcats before intermission to trim Ashland’s deficit to 4-2.
Collins added a late goal in the final seconds. Ashland coach Ed Belville said the senior will be one of the team’s catalysts moving forward.
“His senior leadership, his goal-scoring ability and his presence on the field is huge for us,” Belville said. “We have to keep him healthy going forward. … We still have to play both (district) teams again. He and Tyriq Duckwyler’s leadership is just crucial. We have to have that on the field.”
Hunter Perry cashed in on another Ashland foul with a penalty kick in the 63rd minute. Belville said it has been a recurring theme this season.
“If we could just stay solid on defense and quit giving up free goals with the PKs,” Belville said. “We have given more penalty kicks this year than any team that I have had in the past. But they are getting better. They are young but they are solid. We are growing and we discovered some offense today.”
Torgrimson said keeper Joe Ewing has been just as valuable in net. He accounted for nine saves, including a denial of an Ashland shot with a leg slide as he hydroplaned past the baseline in the second half.
“Joe has truly stepped up to be our MVP,” Torgrimson said. “He has done a great job.”