SHELBY — Despite being up two goals after a half, Shelby coach Jairo Coronado minced no words when assessing his team’s play the first 40 minutes against Ravenna, calling it “the worst first half we’ve played this season”.
The Tigers answered the challenge in the second half, scoring three goals in the first 11:03 after kickoff to take command of the game and dispatch the Bulldogs, 6-0.
Leading the charge was junior Ricardo Bahena. After providing the first-half highlight by making a terrific hustle play to set up Harrison Jenkins for the game’s first goal, Bahena scored four of the Tigers’ final five goals, showing off his speed and nimble footwork.
“He’s a very good offensive player,” Coronado said. “He fits into the group very well. It was nice to see that. He’s good at passing. He’s good at finishing the ball. He’s not the only one, but it happened tonight that it was him...He played a phenomenal game today, not just because of all the goals but because of all the passes he was making.”
The first goal came 14 minutes into the game, with Bahena chasing down a ball into the far corner and keeping it in bounds with a great long ball across to Harrison Jenkins, who was stationed in front of the goal. Jenkins, not to be outdone, made a remarkably athletic move to field the ball, wheel around and shoot all in one motion, and he pocketed it in the top left corner of the net.
The Tigers nearly scored twice more in the next few minutes, but slowed down for most of the rest of the half, incurring Coronado’s challenge.
“I told them...we have to keep it easy,” Coronado said. “We have to keep it moving around. Pass, move, pass, move, let’s get that going. That’s what we did...The second half was phenomenal.”
Shelby (2-0-2, 2-0-1 West Michigan Conference) shredded the Ravenna defense, mostly with Bahena but with impressive ball possession the entire half. Riley Garcia also scored for Shelby in the second half, unleashing a perfect header off a Logan Claeys free kick and sailing it over the keeper’s head and into the goal.
On defense, meanwhile, the Tigers had little trouble earning another shutout. The back end has been Shelby’s strength all season, as it’s allowed only one goal through four games. Claeys, Brian Garcia, Henry Kidder and Mauricio Castillo again had great nights.
Shelby next faces North Muskegon, one of the top teams in the league. Coronado was clear: The Tigers will need all-out effort to beat the Norsemen.
“We’re going to start from the very first second,” Coronado said. “We want to win every 50/50 ball. Every 50/50 ball we have to win it...We can coach everything else, but we cannot coach hustle. You’re going to have to hustle. You’ll have to win that 50/50 ball, and then we can coach for the rest.”