By Ed Niser
AYER -- Having no preseason scrimmages coming into Monday's season-opener with cross-town foe Parker Charter, first-year head coach Scott Snow had no real gauge against which to measure his team's progress.
Well, he got it at the end of the match, as Parker Charter cruised to a 4-0 victory over the host Panthers.
"I was just ready to see what we were going to look like," Snow said. "Conor (Begun) played super hard. That's what I wanted from him. I need these guys to step it up to his level."
Ayer-Shirley sophomore goalie Austin Schmalz stopped 14 shots, despite allowing four to sneak through in his first game ever between the pipes.
"He (Schmalz) did a good job," Snow said. "He is still a little unsure of himself because it's his first time playing goalie, but he looked good other than that."
Parker Charter wasted no time getting on the board with a beautiful strike from John McIntyre with the assist by Felipe Ferreira at 5:52 of the first half. Ferreira boomed a beautiful set-piece in from the right flank that caught McIntyre in stride to put the Parker Panthers out in front 1-0.
"The past two games that is kind of what we have done," Parker Charter head coach Sean Glennon said. "We got a couple and let off the gas a little bit and went into a little bit of a lull. Fortunately today, we were able to hang in but one bad mistake could have gone their way easily."
Three minutes elapsed before Parker Charter tickled the twine once more. This time it was Daegan Crane from Tyler Gokos at 8:40.
Gokos hurled the ball in with perfection from the right sideline and Crane chipped his shot into the low-right corner of the net, to put Parker Charter up 2-0.
Begun kept the Ayer-Shirley offense in the thick of the fight with a pair of stellar runs midway through the opening half. John Gendron advanced the ball down the right side of the pitch and caught the running Begun in the heart of the 18-yard box, but Begun overstepped and airmailed his shot wide left.
Junior captain Brian Bechara tried his luck with a powerful ball played inward toward the net, but Parker goaltender Tyler Stamm (seven saves) secured it for the easy save.
Parker Charter transitioned into a more possession-based offense which resulted in Ayer-Shirley's chances at a comeback becoming null.
The Parker Charter offense controlled the ball for the better part of the final half, and were rewarded with a goal from Giancarlo Greco at 53:43. McIntyre was credited with the assist on the twisting strike from Greco, which extended the Parker Panthers' lead to 3-0.
Parker wasn't done as Oliver Sanderson capped off the scoring with a goal at 23:45 of the second half. Sanderson drew Schmalz off his line and made him pay, as he drilled a shot with wicked pace in the back of the net.
It would be the eventual death-nail as not even the strong effort defensively by senior captain Alex Baker and sophomore back Gabe "LG" Laura could create any opportunities offensively for the hosts.
"They (Parker) were a very strong team with good skill players," Snow said. "They were just a little quicker. The last half of the first half I was really happy with. We need to find that and carry it on through the rest of the game."
The Panthers return to the pitch tomorrow at 11 a.m., as they face St. Bernard's in Fitchburg.