DEVOLA — Dillon Meagle and his teammates on the Marietta boys soccer team were still reeling from Tuesday’s 2-1 season-opening loss to Athens.
In Thursday’s opener against Dover, the Tornadoes felt the wrath of the Tigers. Marietta won 4-1 behind Meagle’s hat trick. The Tigers, who are 1-1 on the season, are back at home on Tuesday against Ripley.
Last year, Marietta put together an undefeated regular season, so losing the first game of the 2022 season hit the team hard.
“That loss to Athens definitely lit a fire under us.” said Meagle, a senior captain. “Last year being undefeated, we were very lucky. That loss to Athens really woke us up and made us realize that not every game is going to be handed to us.”
Meagle scored the go-ahead goal at 15:40 of the first half. He added two more in the second half.
“Dillon, he struggled a bit Tuesday night,” said MHS head coach Todd Morris. “We really got him into space and he was more creative with his runs. When he gets close to the goal, he has remained lethal and he can just finish. Hats off to Dillon.”
Morris was thrilled to see his team bounce back so well from the start of the season.
“This is really big for us to get that first win under our belt,” he said. “I thought it was a great performance.
“Athens is always really quality. It’s a tough place to play. There will be some bumps in the road. I thought tonight, from the start, we were on the front foot. I thought we controlled possession.”
Marietta had six first-half corner kicks and eight first-half shots on goal as the Tornadoes struggled to stop the Tigers’ offense. The Orange finally broke through at 25:13 when Mac Threatt scored on a free kick. That leveled the scores after Dover’s Joshua Smith found the net in the seventh minute from a free-kick.
“Our guys, to their credit, they didn’t panic,” Morris said. “We turned one over and continued to play overtime. For a young team, I thought that was a big, big step for us.”
Threatt then assisted Meagle on his first goal of the evening to put the Tigers up 2-1, which was the halftime score. MHS’s lead could have been much wider at the break if not for an impressive performance by Dover goalkeeper Joey Jones.
“It was just a matter of, can we take advantage of our opportunities?” Morris said. Their goalkeeper played a good game. Give him credit. He was phenomenal.”
Jones finished with 10 saves in the game. Marietta goalkeeper Caden Gebczyk scored four.
Meagle’s two second half goals were assisted by Nate Ketchum.
“Nate Ketchum tonight was absolutely brilliant.” Morris said. “Those two assists he had for Dillon were fantastic. He was all over midfield. It covers so much ground.”
Morris acknowledged the Tigers don’t have as much depth this season as they have in years past, but their conditioning should prevent that from becoming too much.
“We really work hard in the offseason,” Meagle said. “We don’t take days off. We are always conditioned, and it shows here. We’ve played two games and most of the boys have played the full 160 minutes. It’s great to have good conditions.”
And while Thursday was just one win, it was a huge confidence boost for a Marietta team that is still fairly young. If the Tigers can continue to progress throughout the fall, the ceiling is high.
“This team can definitely win a district championship if we’re clicking,” Meagle said. “We have potential. If we play the way we can play, we’re going to be a very scary team.”
On the girls side, Marietta was at Dover on Thursday and came away with a 2-0 win.
Alyssa Baker scored the first goal of the game on an assist from Millie Becker. Becker added a goal of her own to complete the scoring.
The Tigers, who visit Parkersburg South at 1 p.m. Saturday, improved to 2-0. Dover dropped to 3-1.
Jordan Holland can be reached at [email protected].