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Saint Mark’s High School opens boys soccer season with 4-0 shutout win: Photo gallery

Zach Burns controls the ball before kicking it over the William Penn players for a Saint Mark's goal. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

NEW CASTLE — Saint Mark’s went on the offensive from the opening tap in its boys soccer season opener on Sept. 12 at William Penn. That first long pass did not connect, but the Spartans kept at it, and they went on to a 4-0 victory over the Colonials.

The Spartans earned their first corner kick in the fifth minute, and the ball was headed just high. They kept the pressure on the Colonials, whose defense kept them mostly away from the net. Colonials goalkeeper Nestor Torres-Velazquez was solid in net when a shot did get through.

Saint Mark’s had a great chance to score midway through the first, but Torres-Velazquez stoned Kieran O’Connor from short distance on a rebound. A stop shortly after that was turned into a counter by William Penn, but Spartans keeper Ryan Betts made the stop.

Balance returned to the game for a while after that, with both teams taking turns controlling possession. Finally, in the 28th, Saint Mark’s broke through. Charles Manelski sent through ball down the right side, where Connor Gebhardt caught up to it. He sent a shot at a sharp angle to the right of a diving Torres-Velazquez. The ball clanged off the post and bounced into the net for the 1-0 lead.

Penn’s Brandon Vazzano had a good chance to equalize a few minutes later. He caught up to a ball behind Betts, but he was unable to get enough into the shot as the ball headed toward the end line, and the shot went wide.

The Spartans doubled their lead as time ran out in the first half. With a lot of activity going on in front of Torres-Velazquez, Nathan Hughes fired a shot that the keeper blocked, but the ball bounded out to Zach Burns. He fired the shot high with the keeper down.

The halftime break did little to stop the Spartans’ aggressiveness. They were just wide on a free kick from 30 yards in the 43rd minute, and other attempts were saved. Manelski added a goal in the 66th minute, and Hughes got one in the 71st to end the scoring.

Saint Mark’s finished with a 13-2 shot advantage, and they had six corner kicks to one for the Colonials. Betts had two saves. The Spartans (1-0) visit Brandywine on Sept. 19 at 6 p.m.

Torres-Velazquez had nine saves for the Colonials. Penn (0-1) plays the second of three straight home games on Thursday against Middletown at 3:45 p.m.

All photos by Mike Lang.