COPENHAGEN — The conditions during Thursday’s soccer doubleheader between Belleville Henderson and Copenhagen made it feel more like sectional playoff time in late fall, rather than in mid-April.
But these days, Frontier League soccer teams are just happy to be playing in Fall Season II in the spring.
In the first game, Brooke Smykla scored three goals and Meaghen Fitzpatrick and Aubree Smykla contributed two goals each to pace the Copenhagen girls to an 8-0 victory on the Golden Knights’ turf field.
“It means a lot and this is our last game we have our home field, so it’s kind of heart warming,” Brooke Smykla said.
Later, senior Kyle Moyer scored twice and assisted on a goal as the Belleville Henderson boys team bested Copenhagen, 3-1.
“It’s not great, but at least we’re out here,” Panthers sophomore Brayden Richmond said of the weather. “I’d rather play in conditions like this than not at all.”
On a rainy evening with temperatures dipping into the 30s with wind chills in the 20s, the day actually began with snowflakes in the girls game.
Seniors accounted for all five goals in the first half for the Golden Knights, with Smykla generating her three goals and Allison Best and Fitzpatrick contributing a goal each.
Copenhagen opted to participate in spring soccer after faring 2-0-2 in the fall season that included only teams from Lewis County.
“We were really grateful that we were able to play in the fall just because a lot of schools didn’t get that opportunity,” Brooke Smykla said. “And unfortunately that got cut short, so we’re really grateful that we’ve been able to play a little bit more in the spring.”
The Golden Knights (2-0) took an early lead on Belleville Henderson as Best scored in the 16th minute and Smykla followed with her first goal two minutes and 31 seconds later.
Smykla struck again in the 24th minute, with sister Aubree assisting, and Fitzpatrick followed with an unassisted goal in the 29th minute for a 4-0 lead. Brooke Smykla capped her hat trick with an unassisted goal in the 36th minute for a 5-0 edge.
In the second half, Aubree Smykla scored unassisted goals, and Fitzpatrick capped the scoring by scoring on a penalty kick.
Junior goalkeeper Charli Carroll only had to make three saves against Belleville Henderson (0-2).
“Definitely, it’s really hitting me hard,” said Fitzpatrick, one of four current seniors who played on the 2019 team, which reached a Section 3 final. “It’s just my last season and I want us to play great, it doesn’t matter if it’s not like the regular seasons we’ve always had, at least we get something.”
In the boys game, Moyer opened the scoring with a goal for Belleville Henderson (1-1) in the 23rd minute, with sophomore Kenny Zehr assisting.
“I think we started out playing well and we were able to carry it into the second half,” Moyer said. “I’m especially happy for our seniors, it feels good just to have a season.”
Richmond provided the Panthers with a 2-0 lead as he headed in a feed from Moyer with 2:59 left in the first half.
“I saw him running in, so I chipped it across the 18 (yard line) to him and he finished it,” Moyer said of Richmond.
“That was a picture-perfect play,” Belleville Henderson coach Shawn Maloney said.
Moyer struck again with an unassisted goal as he broke in alone on the right side and scored into the left side of the net in the 55th minute. Copenhagen (2-1) averted the shutout when senior Shareef Stokely scored an unassisted goal later.
“We started playing a little kick ball, but overall I was pleased,” Maloney said. “They got their composure back and did really well. It’s nice to have some kind of season.”
Sophomore goalie Jacob Fargo made four saves to back the Panthers to the win.
Like all other Jefferson County teams, Belleville Henderson didn’t get to play a soccer season in the fall because of precautions taken surrounding COVID-19.
In their previous season in 2019, the Panthers claimed their second consecutive Frontier League “D” Division title and finished 17-0-1. Now the team has five games left on its schedule this spring.
“It’s something, most of didn’t think we were going to have any kind of season, so definitely we’re grateful for this,” Richmond added.
Sophomore goalie Hayden McAtee finished with nine saves for Copenhagen, which fared 2-2 in Lewis County’s fall season last year.