Simon Rodriguez’ haul lifts East past Panthers on senior night

Columbus East’s Martin Simon Rodriguez looks up as he dribbles through the Jennings County defense during a soccer match between Columbus East and Jennings County at the BCSC Soccer Complex in Columbus, Ind., Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023.

Mike Wolanin | The Republic

It only took a few minutes for Columbus East to decide Thursday night’s boys soccer contest with Hoosier Hills Conference opponent Jennings County.

Martin Simon Rodriguez netted four goals for the haul in the first half to lead the Olympians to a 8-0 victory on senior night over the Panthers at the BCSC Soccer Complex.

“It has meant a lot. Those are my best friends here,” East senior Gui Silva Coelho said. “They’re the best people. I enjoy playing with them every day. Soccer is my life, and I love it.”

During halftime, seniors from both East (4-2-2, 3-0) and Jennings (3-7-1, 0-4) were honored with a ceremony.

“They poured their heart and soul into the program and became part of the soccer family,” East coach Josh Gonsior said of his seniors. “They contributed a lot to the team and we’re really grateful we could see them grow. It’s really validating as a coach to see that growth.”

Simon Rodriguez found his first goal for the Olympians in the second minute. He scored again a minute later and got the hat trick in the 12th minute for a quick 3-0 lead.

East netted the fourth goal in the 21st minute when Eduardo Aranda-Michel found the net for the 4-0 lead. Simon Rodriguez picked up the haul in the 31st minute, which gave the Olympians a 5-0 halftime lead. A running clock was triggered for the second half.

In the second half, Elijah Goodpaster added a goal for East in the 43rd minute for a 6-0 lead. The Olympians then picked up two goals in two minutes. Brady Wiltsey scored in the 67th minute, and Isaac Going added the final goal in the 68th minute.

East has a few days to prep for a road match with Floyd Central on Tuesday, which could decide the outright HHC title.

“I told them it doesn’t matter the opponent, as long as you get the details right and play the way you’re suppose to play, that works against everybody,” Gonsior said. “Hopefully after the previous game (against Franklin) and seeing the ball go into the net and doing the right things, I hope we can continue the momentum going forward as we go into Floyd on Tuesday.”