The American Fork Cavemen took the short trip to Lehi to take on the Pioneers on Thursday afternoon in each team’s first game of the 2016 season. The Cavemen took an early lead, but the game was within a pair of goals for most of the way and both defenses stymied their opponents for most of the contest. Eventually the Cavemen, led by attackman Jacob McNall, managed to almost double their score in the fourth quarter and pull away for the convincing 11-6 victory.
“Jacob McNall played really well today,” observed American Fork head coach Jesse Card.
McNall led all scorers, netting a hat trick in the first half and finishing the game with four goals. On the other end of the field, attackman Jordan Bursach also completed the hat trick, scoring two of his three goals in the fourth for the Pioneers.
In the first quarter, the teams traded goals early, but a three-goal run for AF, including a pair from McNall, gave the Cavemen a lead that they would never relinquish. A Bursach goal late for the Pios would close out the first quarter with Lehi trailing 2-4.
The defenses took over early in the second quarter, with a lot of back and forth, takeaways, and failed clears. Things then got sloppy as the penalties started to rack up — over five minutes of penalty time was served in the second quarter alone. Eventually Lehi’s Chandler Lemon unleashed a step-down bounce shot to the top corner for the score, but AF’s McNall and Zack Thacker each tallied one of their own, giving the Cavemen a 6-4 lead at the half.
The Pioneers looked like they were poised for a comeback early in the second half when Andre Chapman scored his second goal of the day on a mid-wing rip to cut the AF lead to one. But that would be the only goal in a sloppy third quarter that was indicative of the first game of the season. The Cavemen seemed to steel themselves at the quarter break and poured it on, scoring five goals and locking up the victory in the fourth.
“I think we played better as a team than we have in the past,” said Coach Card, “I thought the boys played pretty well in the first half; in the third quarter we kinda let things go a little bit — didn’t control the ball very well and let them get back in the game. Overall I think the boys played pretty well, but we’ve got a lot to work on, we’re a young team.”
American Fork (1-0) will host a tough Sky View team next Tuesday at 3:30 pm, and Lehi (0-1) will host Lone Peak also on Tuesday at 4:00 pm.