STREATOR — Whenever a team is coming off an emotional triumph, like Streator's loop victory on penalty kicks over Herscher on Monday, the next time out can sometimes be a struggle to hit the ground running.
There was no such problem for the Bulldogs in Tuesday afternoon's nonconference match against former Interstate Eight Conference rival Plano here at SHS Athletic Fields.
The hosts scored in the opening five minutes, led 3-0 at halftime and eventually rolled on to a 7-2 triumph over the Reapers to improve to 17-3-1 on the season, while Plano fell to 4-19-1.
"We were coming off a really solid win and I told the guys prior to the match, 'We need to carry that momentum over. Don't make this a trap game,' said Streator coach Jim Muntz, his club holding a 24-6 advantage in overall shots, including 14-5 on net. "(Plano) is a good soccer team despite what their record says, so it was important for us to come out strong and I think we did that. We scored that first goal right away and I felt we were dominate for much of the match. I don't think we had a let down all match long."
Bulldogs leading goal scorer Tommy Kress started things with a tally off assists from Mason Telford and Jacob Russow just 4 minutes, 20 seconds into the contest. Telford made it 2-0 in the 10th minute scoring off a pass to the right wing from Sawyer Good. Kress, after capturing a errant pass near midfield and out-dribbling a defender to the top of the box, then set up Kody Danko for the Bulldog's third goal with 17:33 left in the opening half.
Plano cut into the disadvantage 73 seconds into the second half when Leo Amezquita found the back of the net on a short blast from the right wing. However, Streator countered just over a minute later when Antonio Gonzalez won a 1-on-1 battle near midfield, then found Telford ahead for a 20-yard blast low left past Plano keeper Hugo Tochimani (7 saves).
"We have struggled all season long against the counter and although one of their goals in the first half was our mistake, all three came from Streator being able to quickly switch from defense to offense," said Plano coach Tom Dean. "We pushed up to far and then weren't able to get back ... part of that is inexperience in knowing the situation and part is anticipation. In some ways, we are young either in age or positionally because of having a couple of seniors out of the lineup.
"When Streator had opportunities today, they put them away. We gained a little momentum there to begin the second half, but then they were able to come right back and push it back to a three-goal game."
The Bulldogs added three more goals in succession to go up 7-1 as Starkey netted a short shot from the left off a passes from Gonzalez and Carter Pierce in the 64th minute; Kress tapped in a rebound from out front (assists to Russow and Starkey) in the 67th minute; and Damian Simmons converted a penalty kick in the 71st minute. Plano's Harold Flores scored in the 75th minute off a helper from Alexis Arellano to close out the scoring.
Streator keeper Max Baker made three saves.
"Earlier in the year, we were a little bit snakebit as far as good opportunities go, but the past week and a half we have been finishing our chances," said Muntz. "Our defense has been very good as well, keeping the ball in our offensive end and our playmakers — guys like Kress, Telford, Starkey, Russow are making the plays.
"We continue to get better each time out and right now we are playing well and are on a roll. This is the right time of the season to be playing like we are and now we just have to keep it going. It was a really nice team win today."