Eastview's Zack Aday-Nicholson (10) races past Eagan defender Jack Tesch (7). Aday-Nicholson struck first for the Lightning just six minutes in, the eventual game-winner, in a 4-0 defeat of the Wildcats. Photo by Cheryl Myers, SportsEngine
Eastview’s seniors know this is their last chance to have the kind of season every team envisions. So far, Zack Aday-Nicholson and his seven fellow seniors are on the right track.
The Lightning played fast in a 4-0 win over Eagan (6-3-0) on Tuesday, scoring three first-half goals. Aday-Nicholson netted his team-leading eighth goal of the season in the sixth minute, as the Lightning moved up the field quickly following a goal kick. A deft touch from Nuubeek Tsegaab near midfield put the ball up to Sanat Iyer, who found Aday-Nicholson at the top of the box to bury a shot.
Eastview’s team speed was apparent, and it’s part of the reason the Lightning are off to a 7-0-3 start and ranked ninth in Class 2A the the coaches' poll.
“The coaches like to put us on the line a lot, so fitness is kind of a big part of our game,” Aday-Nicholson said. “Over the summer, I know we all worked really hard because this is most of our senior years. We have a lot of seniors on the roster. We just got in shape, and we’re ready to go this year. We’re hoping this is our year.”
It was the fifth straight win for Eastview. The Lightning’s two leading scorers each had goals. Even better for the Lightning: All four goals were assisted. Eastview’s second goal came off a corner kick, while the third came on a long pass up the wing to Jack Landwer, who finished a shot from just inside the box.
“They’re smart soccer players,” coach Scott Gustafson said. “They play year-round. They have a high soccer IQ. They like playing with each other. They’re not selfish players.”
Eastview moved the ball with a deliberate kind of speed. More often than not, a pass to the corner or a through-ball was placed right into a teammate’s run.
“That’s a big focus — we practice with each other a lot, so we know where each other’s going to be,” Aday-Nicholson said. “Midfielders are always stepping up to help the forwards on offense. Sanat ... likes to play the cross, so I knew. I took that step back so I’d be there for the ball.”
Plenty of these plays have given scoring chances to Aday-Nicholson. He scored four goals in a 7-0 win over Richfield on Sept. 9, as well as the lone goal in a 1-1 tie with Farmington two days earlier. Though he said he prefers dribbling and ball control, Aday-Nicholson was dangerous in space and just missed on a pair of header attempts in the box. The senior has eight goals and an assist in 10 games this year, after just three regular-season goals as a junior.
“He’s a senior this year and he’s come a long way since he’s been a freshman," Gustafson said. "I’m just happy he’s getting the reward for all the hard work he’s put in over the years. He’s put in a good performance for us this year.”
Aday-Nicholson said increases in both team focus and positivity have contributed to Eastview's undefeated record. And though they cruised by the Wildcats in Tuesday's matchup, the Lightning will likely see Eagan again in sections, where they’re familiar postseason foes.
“I guess we just realized that this is our last year,” Aday-Nicholson said. “We’ve got to give it our all. There’s nothing left after this. It’s high school. We want to leave a legacy.”
Eagan senior goalkeeper Nathan Krawza makes a high save in the second half. Krawza made six saves for the Wildcats on Tuesday night. Photo by Cheryl Myers, SportsEngine
Playing much like their namesake, the Eastview Lightning (7-0-3, 3-0-1) bolted to a three-goal halftime lead en route to a 4-0 South Suburban Conference win Tuesday at Eagan (6-3, 3-1).
Eastview’s speed kept Eagan on its heels, as the No. 9-2A Lightning handed the Wildcats their first conference loss.
Lightning leading goal-scorer Zack Aday-Nicholson struck first with a shot from the top of the box in the sixth minute, his eighth goal of the year. Gus Wolney hammered in a header off a corner kick in the 30th minute, and Jack Landwer scored his fifth goal of the season after sprinting up the left wing and rifling a shot past goalkeeper Nathan Krawza in the 35th minute.
Eastview’s Noah Ambroz scored the fourth goal, as he cleaned up a loose ball in the 73rd minute to make it 4-0.
Eastview posed danger when in transition — Aday-Nicholson scored after a goal kick, and Landwer received a long pass in transition before finishing.
Krawza finished with six saves for Eagan, in about 65 minutes of work, while Elliot Brown had four saves for Eastview. Sean Kennedy had two assists for the Lightning.
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