PUNXSUTAWNEY — Already leading 3-0 at halftime, Punxsy scored three goals within 1:40 early in the second half to put the game away, and Punxsy cruised to an 8-0 win over Curwensville Tuesday in Punxsutawney.
It was a full squad effort for the Chucks, with the lineup looking a bit different in the first half than Punxsy is used to, giving the midfielders a chance to play defense and the fullbacks a chance to run the offense.
"It was strictly to motivate and get guys moving and playing at a high level," Punxsy head coach Phil Shenkle said after the game. "If you put them in awkward positions, they'll be that much more focused. We didn't get a lot of goals, but those fullbacks aren't really trained to score, either. They're just trained to hit the ball hard."
Punxsy's new look offense was able to manage several scoring opportunities and even buried three goals behind Curwensville's keeper.
The scoring kicked off early in the first half when the Chucks were awarded a corner kick. Tanner Evans connected on the kick, sending it to the far post, and Ty Zimmerman headed it home to give Punxsy the early 1-0 lead.
Punxsy went scoreless for the next 20 minutes, but it had plenty of chances, including a nice shot by Tyler Young, an attempt by Mike Pascuzzo and a shot just wide by Quinton Weber.
The Chucks would have had even more scoring opportunities, but Curwensville's offsides trap forced the Chucks into several offsides calls, frustrating the Chucks' fullbacks-turned-forwards.
"If it wasn't for the offsides trap, we'd have had 38 goals or something like that in the first half," Shenkle said. "What they do is pull up and do a coordinated jump, forcing our guys into an offsides position. We had very good refs today, who were always in position, and they made the right calls."
Shenkle said his team rarely runs such a trap, because if the official doesn't see the offsides, the other team has a breakaway.
"There's nothing worse than getting them in an offsides trap and then not getting the call because they're off to the races," he said. "But it worked very well for them today, and they were able to keep the game close for quite a while."
After the 20-minute scoring drought, Punxsy struck again twice before the second half ended, though.
In the 24th minute, Kevin Hughes put a shot on the net that was stopped by the keeper, but Zimmerman cleaned up the rebound for the Chucks' second goal.
Curwensville's first scoring chance came with 16 minutes remaining in the half, but Punxsy's keeper, Dan Triponey, intercepted the cross to thwart the chance.
With fewer than four minutes left in the half, Tyler Presloid pushed up from his defensive position and banged a shot off the crossbar, barely missing, but Pascuzzo was there to deflect the rebound into the back of the net and push Punxsy's lead to three.
Curwensville pressed in the last minute, but a cross pass went untouched through the box, and the Chucks' shutout remained intact.
When the Chucks took the field for the second half, they were back in their normal configuration, and they wasted very little time opening the game up and putting it out of reach.
Curwensville earned its first shot on Triponey 4:30 into the second half, but Triponey saved it easily, and on Curwensville's next attempt, Triponey intercepted a cross and threw the ball downfield to Presloid running in full stride.
Presloid shot the ball toward the mouth of the net, deflecting it off a Curwensville defender and into the net to give Punxsy a 4-0 lead.
Just 40 seconds later, the Chucks' Trevor Peace beat the defense and scored Punxsy's fifth goal of the day.
And one minute after Peace's tally, Hughes found a ball that had been deflected multiple times in front of the net and pushed it in for the 6-0 lead.
At that point, Punxsy started cycling in some players who are a bit less experienced, and Shenkle said he liked what he saw from those players, as well.
"I really was pleased with what I saw," he said. "Tommy Renwick has never played before, and he had several opportunities. We were able to give our starters some rest and recovery time. And Brycen Lunger is just back from a two-week layoff, so we were able to get him some time without too much pressure."
With 17 minutes remaining in the game, Evans scored on a rocket just below the crossbar, making the lead seven.
In the final 10 minutes, Punxsy's squad kept the pressure on with chances by Renwick, Garrett Hoffman, Justin Ray and Lance Deet barely missing before Ryan Presloid set up Punxsy's last tally of the day.
Presloid sent a shot on goal that was bound for the back of the net, but before it arrived, it was deflected by Deet, who was credited with the final goal.
Shenkle was impressed with his team's effort, but also noted that he liked the way Curwensville played hard, too.
"They played right to the finish and didn't quit," he said. "Bob Shearer does a great job over there just keeping them playing hard. They go hard for the full 80 minutes and have a really good thing going for them. They just love to play for him."
Shenkle spoke with his team after the game and noted that despite all the hard work that goes into the game, it's just that: A game.
"Today was fun," he said. "I was telling the guys that often times, I just make it about work, work, work, and sometimes, we have to remember it's just a game. Now we're going to go to work tomorrow, but it doesn't mean we can't have fun, too."
After practice today, Punxsy will head to Keystone tomorrow for a 6:30 contest with the Panthers.