As his team prepared for its first home game of the season, Wilmington College head coach Bud Lewis had a feeling something special was in the air.
His coaching intuition proved spot on as the Fightin' Quakers scored two minutes into game, and added three more insurance goals, for the 4-0 victory over Wittenberg Friday in the second game of the 2017 Wilmington Kiwanis Classic.
"I could tell in our warm-up and I could tell with the atmosphere in the locker room, there was something different that made me pretty confident the players were focused," said Lewis. "We kind of understood that we can't start slow, and getting a goal so early in the game really takes a lot of pressure off. One goal is not necessarily going to get it done, but tonight it did. The beautiful thing was we got three more to give us a cushion."
The win gave Lewis his 500th career victory. He is the third active coach to reach the coaching milestone and is eighth all-time amongst all NCAA Division III coaches in victories. Several Wilmington alums were able to join in the celebration as WC played in Williams Stadium for the first time.
"If we would have gotten (career win 500) earlier, I would have been happy, but it was real special to share it here with family, friends and particularly some alums that were here," said Lewis.
Kirschner dribbled down the right sideline, near the corner, before striking a pass to the top of the box for an awaiting – and wide open – Winald, who buried it. It was the first time this season the Fightin' Quakers scored first.
In fact, it snapped a stretch of four straight games in which Wilmington fell behind 2-0.
Kirschner was back to his play-making ways just 14 minutes later as his centering pass was knocked around a little before finding the feet of junior Benny Spirk (Wilmington, OH/Wilmington), who scored his first goal of the year.
"Roman made the first goal happen; created that situation, and he created the second goal," said Lewis. "Roman was really a key player for us, the first half in particular."
Wilmington added a third goal as sophomore Tommy Logan (Cincinnati, OH/Northwest) struck his free kick nearly 45 yards to a streaking Nati Wallis (Clarksville, OH/Landmark), and the sophomore did the rest by dropping his shot over the charging keeper.
Junior Treshaun Pate (Cincinnati, OH/Princeton) capped the scoring as he drew a foul in the box, and buried his penalty kick chance in the second half.
For a team that had tallied five markers total through the first five games, the four goals were a welcome sight.
"We have really refocused on how we get forward (offensively)," said Lewis. "We really focused on playing early balls and getting balls through, and I think it made a difference. We got some balls over the top, got some through balls; in other words, be more direct."
While the Fightin' Quakers were experiencing an offensive explosion, senior goalkeeper Chris Bourque (Batavia, OH/Batavia) was being his normal stellar self between the pipes.
He finished with six saves and none more spectacular than his penalty kick save in the second half.
"Chris Bourque was fabulous in making the save (on the penalty kick)," said Lewis. "It was a good strike; it was just a great save. Chris has played well all year. I don't fault him on any goal we have given up this year. It's remarkable the progress he has made as a goalkeeper. He was so sharp, so focused; it was great."
Wilmington won't have much time to revel in victory as it returns to the pitch 7 p.m. Saturday to face UC-Clermont in the final game of the Wilmington Kiwanis Classic.