Darnell’s hat trick helps Tigers rout Golden Rockets

Circleville peppered the back of the net in the final 20 minutes of the first half on Monday and seized a 6-0 intermission lead on its way to an 8-1 non-league win over host Wellston.

Five different Tigers participated in the first half barrage, with Justin Darnell scoring a pair of goals and assisting and another. Josiah Gaines had a goal and an assist, and Donovan Dillon, Luke Stout, Kaden Paxton each chipped in a goal. Liam Goodhart was a key in helping to create some of those scoring chances for the Tigers with three assists in the first half.

“We got out to a slow start but played pretty well the last 20 minutes of the first half and we were able to put some goals in the back of the net,” first-year Circleville coach Evan Callihan said. ” Liam Goodhart created a lot for us offensively out on the wing and led us with three assists. There were many times Liam probably could have scored, but he is someone that is always looking for his teammates and trying to set up other people to score.”

Circleville came back after halftime with Darnell finishing off his hat trick off a feed from Jackson Hatfield, who then scored the final goal of the night for the Tigers off a pass from Josiah Gaines.

“I’m also really proud of our senior Justin Darnell,” Callihan said. “He has played goalie the past two years and we have moved things around a bit. As a program, we are trying to emphasize attitude and emphasize what having a winning attitude looks like. Justin has been the prime example of how to handle events when things don’t go your way.

“He shows up every day pushing everyone else and he plays with a tremendous amount of energy and gives us a spark as a team. For him to go out and score three goals along with an assist was something that speaks volumes to his character and his approach to everything.”

Will Flory made three saves for the Tigers (1-0-1), who open Mid-State League Buckeye Division play on Wednesday at Hamilton Township.

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