Augusta Oriole Soccer getting hot at the right time in blowout of Elyria Christian

Charles Chaney
Butler County Times Gazette
Augusta's Payton Ball attempts a shot against Elyria Christiain on Monday night at Hillier Stadium in Augusta, Kansas. The Orioles won 7-0.

Kaden Kearney didn’t need much time as he scored three goals in less than eight minutes as the ninth-ranked Augusta dispatched of Elyria Christian 7-0 on Tuesday night at Hillier Stadium.

The win pushes Augusta to seven consecutive victories since their stunning opening season loss to Wichita Classical in overtime. They’ve been a different team ever since that loss.

You’re bound to change as the season goes on when you’re replacing 13 seniors and everyone tells you this is a rebuilding you. What has Augusta done with the “rebuilding season?” Just had the best start in school history.

“We just have a handful of seniors in key positions,” Augusta head coach Dusty Buell said. “I don’t think you’re going to have another person that’s better than Connor Inlow in our league.

“Then you have Payton [Ball] and Kearney and Ball and Kearney, either of those guys can torch you any given night.”

That’s what happened against Elyria Christian. Ball, who scored 40 goals last year in 15 matches, was the man sharing the ball. He has five assists in the win, all to Kearney. The pressure is off his back.

Last season, Ball only had eight assists as he was looked toward as the primary scorer for Augusta. They were 0-3 in games where he didn’t score. This season they don’t need him to be the end-all on offense. He’s drawing defenders and freeing up space in the middle. 

You saw that on the second goal of the night when Ball send a pass across the middle to an unmarked Kearney, who was able to convert the easy goal.

“It really makes it easy for me to just pass the ball,” Ball said. “I just have to place it right and they’ll go get it.”

He did those numerous times, twice on corners and others on crosses into the box. Not something you saw in their only loss. It’s all about picking your poison now.

Augusta's Kaden Kearney celebrates one of his five goals in the win over Elyria Christian on Monday night.

“We have a great relationship,” Kearney said. “We tried to play the first game like it was last season and this is a different team. We have a lot of options.”

Kearney, had his fair share of goals last season. In eight games, he’s already surpassed that, with 19 on the season; including had five on Monday night against Elyria Christian.

“He just makes my job easier,” Ball said of Kearney in the middle. “It makes the game fun a little bit more and I can just do what I want on the side and cross the ball.”

Augusta capitalized on set pieces and limited any real possession on Elyria Christian all night. They held them to zero shots and only a handful of touches in the box. 

“Our defense has really come together,” Kearney said. “They work well together and we’re pretty lethal all together.”

It wasn’t the final score that was impressive, it’s how they dominated a team that had only seen defeat once. The keeper for Elyria Christian, Ben Unruh, did his best but at times he was face-to-face with unmarked players that easily found the back of the net. 

What’s even better is the defender has picked up two clean sheets in their last two matches, including a 3-0 win last week over No. 3 ranked McPherson. They continued the dominate defense by holding Elyria Christian without a single shot on Monday night. 

“We weren’t sure what to expect when we went out against McPherson,” Ball said. “We came out and won and the way we did it was really nice. I drew the penalties and Connor [Inlow] finished them.”

This win keeps the Orioles near the top of the Class 4A-1A standings as there is a month remaining in the regular season. 

Augusta will hop back on the saddle on next Monday as they travel to BG Products Veterans Sports Complex to take on county rival, El Dorado. They’re still trying to reach the height of what this team can accomplish and that’s still focusing on every team. 

“I don’t think we’ve reached our peak,” Buell said. “I don’t know if we will this year but if we do it’s going to be dangerous.”

Charles Chaney has been the Sports Editor for the Butler County Times-Gazette since Aug. 2019. You can reach him at cchaney@butlercountytimesgazette.com or on Twitter at @ChuckChaneyBCTG.