BELLE VERNON – Niko Apodiakos scored twice and T.J. Watson made six saves to pace Belle Vernon to a 3-0 shutout over Trinity Tuesday night in a Section 3-AAA boys soccer showdown.
“I feel that we have been sitting in and defending before taking advantage of our opportunities,” Belle Vernon coach Rob Miele said. “We scored on a (penalty kick), we scored on a corner and we competed for that first goal.
“This team is comfortable waiting out and seeing, and considering how young we are, I give the team props.”
Trinity coach Ryan Julian was disappointed with the outcome.
“We had possession (early) and their keeper made some key saves,” he said. “But I am real proud of the guys for playing until the last whistle.”
Trinity (1-1, 2-2) controlled play early and had the first solid scoring opportunity in the match.
With 19:39 to play in the first half, Elijah Cinncinati drilled a shot toward Watson, but the junior goalkeeper punched the ball above the goalie’s box and out of play.
“Elijah made a heck of a one-touch flick on it and their keeper made a heck of a play on it,” Julian said.
Miele knows Watson’s shot was the key point.
“That save was huge because if we go down 1-0, that changes the whole game,” Miele said. “I thought we defended corners real well tonight and the defense stepped up.”
Watson said it was a difficult save to make.
“It was a good shot that deflected off,” he said. “Elijah is a real good player and got a good shot off but I was fortunate to make a play on it.”
The Leopards (3-0, 6-0) opened the scoring when Niko Apodiakos played a loose ball in front of the net and scored to give Belle Vernon a 1-0 lead with 17:02 to go in the first half.
“That was the kind of goal we needed,” Miele said. “We have gotten them in timely situations so far this season.”
With 12:11 to go in the first half, Belle Vernon was awarded a penalty kick and Apodiakos buried the shot.
The Leopards extended their lead to 3-0 with 8:42 to play in the half to close the scoring when Tyler Kovatch scored off of a corner kick from Sam Desai.
Belle Vernon played an even more patient style in the second half.
“We flipped out guys and went with two holders and sat in and defended,” Miele said.
Watson credited the defense in front of him.
“The defense played really good and played lockdown defense,” Watson said. “We were patient.”
Colby White made six saves for Trinity.
“He is a great keeper,” Julian said of White.
Belle Vernon, which started nine underclassmen, set a program record with its sixth straight win to start the season.
Miele said the feat was not discussed prior to Tuesday.
“It wasn’t a goal that we talked about,” he said. “But these guys needed to realize that it was something out there for them to accomplish and we will enjoy it tonight but have to get ready for a tough match on Thursday.
“People thought we would rebuild this year and that motivated the guys.”
Julian is confident his team will bounce back.
“We have to talk to the team about not giving up flurries of goals,” he said. “It is something that we have done in the past. So if we do let one in, which probably won’t be very often, we just can’t more go after that.”