PLATTEVILLE - New Platteville/Lancaster goalie Skyler Cullen was tested early and often in last Thursday season opener against visiting Sun Prairie.
Cullen shook off an early Sun Prairie goal in the sixth minute off a throw in and held up pretty well during the first half, making a number of spectacular saves, diving and leaping on a number of occasions to turn back Cardinals shot.
But Cullen and Platteville/Lancaster’s defense as a whole couldn’t slow the Sun Prairie attack, and the Hillmen had trouble mounting any kind of offense counter attack of their own.
Max Benrud, who assisted on the first goal with a perfect throw in from the left side to the head of Mohammed Dukuray, scored late in the first half to make it 2-0, then added a second half goal as Sun Prairie coasted to a 4-0 victory.
Benrud scored unassisted in the 34th minute when the Hillmen defense lost track of the shifty midfielder in the middle of the box. Benrud scored again off a direct kick in the 55th minute.
Eric Happermaid added an insurance goal in the 71st minute on a deflected crossing pass from Jake Wilkins.
Cullen got a hand on Wilkins’ pass, but the ball bounded right to Happermaid, who ripped a rebound shot into the upper left corner of the net from 15 yards out.
Cullen made 10 saves in his varsity debut in net, but Platteville/Lancaster (0-1) was outshot 14-1 in the contest.
“Overall we played well, even though the stats don’t show that,” said Hillmen coach Tim Stanton. “Anytime you lose 4-0 it doesn’t look like you had a good game. But we can learn a lot from playing a talented more experienced team like Sun Prairie. The guys say how they moved the ball in the midfield to set up shots and I think that will help us play better in the future.”
Any already thin Platteville/Lancaster varsity team, which graduated 13 seniors from last year’s team and lost another to the football team, was without junior Justin “Chumley” Schaefer on Thursday.
He broke his lower right leg, the same injury that ended his 2010 season early, in a scrimmage on Aug. 13. He will be out at least six weeks, perhaps the entire season.
Platteville/Lancaster has just three healthy returning starters (Ben Kroll, jr., F; Matt Roling, jr., MF, and Logan Thole, sr., MF) from last’s year squad that went 15-6-1 and won the SWC title with a 10-1-1 league mark.
But Stanton remains optimistic despite the early loss. “I think until someone knocks off we are still the front runner. A lot of the other conference teams lost a lot of seniors last year as well. Our varsity reserve went undefeated in conference play a year ago so I think that gives us a big advantage,” said Stanton.
The Hillmen, who traveled to Dodgeville on Tuesday, will host River Valley this Thursday and Mt. Horeb this Saturday.
Sun Prairie 4, Platteville/Lancaster 0
(from Thursday, Aug. 18 @ Platteville)
Sun Prairie 2 2 - 4
Platteville/Lancaster 0 0 - 0
First half - SP: Mohammed Dukuray (Max Benrud), 5:31; Benrud, 34:44.
Second half - SP: Benrud 54:16; Eric Happermaid (Jake Wilkins), 70:25.
Saves - P/L: Skyler Cullen 10; SP: Arb 1. Shots on Goal - P/L: 1, SP: 14. Corner kicks - P/L 0, SP 4.