SHIPPENSBURG >> Shippensburg boys soccer coach Warren Jones had a plan for his senior defender, Matt West.
"My hope was that our two young defenders (Aiden Howard and Eli Hubbard) would come along during the season," Jones said. "That way, we'd be able to move Matt up a little later in the season. But during the last week of practice, I sort of thought it was a now-or-never type deal."
West was moved up to the striker position for the Greyhounds' first two games of the season in the Reading Tournament, and boy, was it the right decision.
The leading returning scorer, who had just eight goals last year, totaled four goals Saturday and is the Public Opinion Male Athlete of the Week.
"Last year, I actually wanted to get in the attack more, but Coach still needed me on defense, which was fine," West said. "This year, it wasn't until a few days before our first game that he started trying me at forward. I was scoring a lot in the preseason, so I started at striker on Saturday. I think it worked well for us."
West and the Hounds opened the day with a 3-2 loss to McCaskey, during which West scored both of Ship's goals. In the consolation game, the Greyhounds came back from a 2-0 deficit to down Lebanon, 4-3. During that game, West had what both he and Jones agreed was his most impressive goal of the day.
"I was most proud of that goal," West said. "(Coach) knows I'm a predominantly left-footed player, so he's always pushing me to use my right foot."
He did just that. After splitting two defenders, West was one-on-one with the keeper. He knocked the ball with the outside of his right foot, deflecting it off the post and past the Lebanon keeper.
"That Lebanon keeper was a phenomenal keeper, too," Jones said. "The two goals Matt had in the first game, those were nice goals. But I'm hard on him about using his right foot, and he sliced it pretty nicely."
West plans to play college in soccer and thinks college teams would utilize him at his natural left-back position. But for now, he's happy to help his team in whatever way he can.
"I've played attacker before, so it's not that bad," West said. "It's a bit different, but it's a good different. I have a lot of great players around me, which makes it easier for me, and I know I'm gonna try my best wherever Coach puts me."
MATT WEST, SHIPPENSBURG GREYHOUNDS
Sport: Boys soccer
Parents: Brendan and Todd West
Size: 5-foot-8, 145 pounds
Other interests: Matt enjoys playing his guitar, listening to music and hanging out with friends.
Surprising fact: He has never eaten seafood.
Favorite team: Chelsea FC
Athlete most admired: Eden Hazard
Statistics: West scored 4 of Shippensburg's 6 goals on Saturday the Reading Tournament ... He netted both goals in a 3-2 loss to McCaskey, and had another pair of scores in a 4-3 win over Lebanon in the consolation game.