FORTVILLE — Mouhamed Konate scored a career-high five goals against Delta on Tuesday as the Mt. Vernon boys’ soccer team turned in what has become an annual rout.
Konate’s five-goal night highlighted the Marauders’ 11-1 win, just as Konate’s four-goal performance (then a personal single-game high) in this matchup last fall fueled a 12-0 victory.
Konate and the Marauders, though, expect the post-Delta portion of the 2012 schedule to turn out differently than 2011. The junior opened last season with 10 goals in the team’s first three games — all MV victories — then was held to seven strikes the rest of the campaign as the competition zeroed in on the talented forward, and MV went 6-4-3 the rest of the way.
“I’ve got more help,” Konate said of his current teammates. “We have great players, like CJ (Coleman), Kyle (Cansler), Matt (Powell). I know there’s going to be a lot of guys focused on me, but there’s a lot of other great players out there for us.”
The Marauders will face Warren Central (Thursday), New Palestine (Tuesday) and Columbus East (Aug. 30) in their next three tilts; a step up in competition from their opening slate of Richmond, Rushville and the visiting Eagles on Tuesday.
In what was essentially a final tune-up, Mt. Vernon (3-0, 2-0 Hoosier Heritage Conference) dominated Delta, taking 32 shots on goal compared to the Eagles’ three attempts.
MV, which suffered minimal losses to graduation this season, will aim to repeat last season’s 5-3 win over Warren Central, then avenge a 2-1 regular season loss to New Palestine. The Marauders also lost to the Dragons in the sectional, 1-0.
“It’s the same guys for us, in large part,” Britt said. “They’ve seen how the season went along last year; they don’t want to do that. They know what to expect. They know that these first three games are just what they are, and right after that you’re going to be put up against it.
“And that’s what I was talking about (to the players after Tuesday’s game). We can’t put ourselves in this speed of play and this style of play. Mentally, we can’t be there as we move forward, because it’s not going to work. Just trying to get them to realize that expectations are going to go way up after today.”
The Marauders will count on a balanced attack surrounding Konate as the competition gets stiffer, and a host of players showed off their scoring skill against Delta.
Powell, Drew Kiser and Josiah Noska notched goals in the first half to, along with a pair of scores from Konate, give the home team a 5-0 lead. In the second half, Konate registered three more goals despite playing less than 15 minutes; Kiser added another score; and Jake Fontaine and Rhyan Woods completed the scoring.
Coleman had three goals and three assists in the Marauders’ first two matches, and he added three assists against the Eagles.
Britt wasn’t as concerned with who scored Tuesday as he was with the Marauders’ attitude.
“It’s a difficult game for them mentally because they have that expectation (with Delta),” Britt said. “They see it year in, year out. The biggest thing in this kind of game is to try and mentally be ready to go. The first half, I didn’t think we did a good job. The second half, mentally, we were ready to come out and play.”
Even with a perfect team record, the Marauders aren’t overconfident, and they’re listening to their coach’s advice.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” said Konate, who has nine goals on the young season. “We need to play faster, quicker and we need to talk. I think if we work harder, we’ll be one of the 20 best teams in the state, but we have a lot of work to do.
“We’re ready (for tough competition). We’ve got Warren, which is a great team, New Pal, Yorktown (Sept. 4). I think we’ll do very good, we just need to keep it up and work hard.”