If you were looking for a tense, drama-filled District 5 Class 1A boys soccer quarterfinal match Saturday, McConnellsburg was not the place to be.
The Spartans dominated play from nearly the opening whistle and rocked North Star, 8-1.
"I was glad to see the offense putting the ball into the net in the playoffs," McConnellsburg coach Cory Houck said. "We hope for more of that."
The next game will pose a better challenge. Tuesday's semifinal round - with site and time yet to be decided - will be against rival Fannett-Metal (13-6).
Saturday, the Cougars (8-11) could not handle the Spartans' quick passing game, and once McConnellsburg (16-2-1) found the range - it misfired on its first six shots - it was all over.
North Star coach Jordan Zimmerman said, "They were ready to play and we were flat-footed. They took advantage of that and our mistakes. That's why they're the No. 1 seed."
Chad Bunch had some fun in the first half for the Spartans, scoring into an open net after a pass by Nic Culler, getting his second goal on a rebound of his own shot, and tacking on a third with an assist from Josh Booth. Ethan Barclay also scored in the first half off a corner kick by Bryce Kylor.
In the second half, Chase Glee scored after a defensive error, Kylor nabbed a goal for himself and Cody Parson converted a penalty kick.
But it was a goal by Barclay that will be talked about for a while. North Star committed a foul in its offensive side of midfield. Barclay let fly a direct kick from 60 yards away into the wind that looked on target right away. Cougar keeper Caleb Ashbrook backpedaled, but too late, and the ball tipped off his hands and into the upper 90.
"That's for sure the longest one I ever scored on," Barclay said, "and I wasn't even trying to shoot. I was trying to serve a ball for Landon (Seiders)."
So now the stage is set for the third game of the season between the Spartans and Fannett-Metal. Both of the other games went into double overtime, with McConnellsburg winning 1-0 and 2-1.
Barclay said, "Their style of play is hard to understand. But if we play good defense and keep our shape, I think we should be OK."
"It's mainly their style that makes the games close," Houck said. "And the atmosphere - the fans always show up. I don't know what (F-M coach) Greg (Best) says to them on the bus, but they always play us tough."
Tiger defender Wyatt Thorne said earlier Saturday, "We are hoping to play McConnellsburg. It's always an interesting game ... plus we feel we owe them one."