Benton Hakman netted a hat trick and Frank Jansen added two goals of his own as St. Anthony handled the Salem Wildcats 5-0 Thursday afternoon.
It took a bit for the offense to get going, scoring just one goal in the first half, but the floodgates opened up in the second half.
St. Anthony coach Scott Demers said his team's pacing and depth made the difference as the game kept up.
“I really just wanted the team to work the ball,” he said. “I knew over time they'd break them down, I figured anyway.”
Hakman opened up the scoring nearly 15 minutes into the game, scoring on a kick to the left corner of the goal with the perfect amount of touch past the Salem keeper to make it 1-0.
The Bulldogs hit two posts at the half went on, putting 21 shots on goal in the first half alone to no more success on the scoreboard.
Demers stressed the play of his midfielders at the half, reminding them to push the tempo and keep the pressure up.
They did, and it showed, starting off with a penalty kick opportunity for Jansen three minutes into the second half. He converted to make it 2-0, and Hakman was fed with a pass from Chandler Martelli two minutes later to make it 3-0.
“The game is won and lost in the midfield,” Demers said. “By controlling that midfield space and working it through that space quickly, it keeps the opposition off balance.
Martelli set up Jansen again with 18 minutes left in the game to make it 4-0, and Hakman completed his hat trick with some fancy footwork around a Wildcat defender and his third goal of the game with 8:18 left.
Jansen and Hakman's success came back to Demers' key word of the night: pace.
“We've been working a lot on helping them with pace,” he said. “Our objective at this point is controlling the ball well enough, effective passing, not just playing kickball. If we do that, it'll translate into goals.”
Zach Tegeler pitched a clean sheet for the shutout as the Bulldogs controlled possession for much of the contest.
The Bulldogs improve to 7-3-3 with the win. St. Anthony heads to Pana Saturday afternoon.
Salem	0	0	0
St. Anthony	1	4	5
Goals: Hakman (25:22 1st, 34:28 2nd, 8:18 2nd); Jansen (35:56 2nd, 18:13 2nd)
Assists: Martelli (2); Kruger (1)