By Chase Howell, Enquirer contributor
On Monday, Mason senior forward Jack Clark sat at home, sick with a fever. As his Comet teammates wondered if he would return to the field the following night, Clark prepared himself as well as he could.
The next night, in the sectional final against Milford, Clark proved that his strength had returned – scoring four goals in the first half to prove it.
A UC commit, Clark led Mason, No. 1 in the OSSCA Poll and the Enquirer Division I Area Coaches’ Poll, to a 6-1 victory against Milford.
The Eagles, No. 9 in the Enquirer Division I Area Coaches’ Poll, finishes the season at 13-5-0. The Comets remain undefeated at 16-0-1.
The Comets opened the match with strong pressure on the Eagles’ defense. Less than six minutes into the game, Clark unleashed his first goal. Shaking loose in the center of the penalty box, he fired a shot past the Milford goalie.
Milford did not give up the fight, however, with attacks on goal of its own in the early minutes of the match. Not long after Mason’s first strike, Milford senior midfielder Thomas Moore sent a header to the Comets’ goal, just missing wide left.
Three minutes later, Clark again found the net, flicking the ball left past the Milford defender in the penalty box, then hitting the ball on the bounce towards the goal.
With four minutes remaining until the break, sophomore midfielder Bryce Curran sent a cross from the right side into the box, finding Clark again for the score.
Two minutes later, Clark shielded off a defender just into Milford’s defensive-third, turning with the pass to open up a one-on-one opportunity with the goalie. A low, hard shot from the right side sped just past the far post, giving the forward his 25th goal of the season (most in the Greater Miami Conference).
“I don’t really know how to put that into words,” Mason coach Paul Reedy said. “I’ve never had a player score four goals in a game, let alone score four in one half. He was on fire tonight, any opening and he buried it.”
In the second half, Milford climbed onto the scoreboard with a goal at the 20-minute mark. Senior defender Grant Galvin connected with a cross off a Milford corner kick, driving the ball into the net.
The Comets would not finish the match quietly, however, with junior forward Jude Iroh dribbling the ball himself past half field, through the Eagles’ defense, all the way into the penalty box to finish a one-on-one left-footer to the back right corner of the goal.
Iroh struck again with 10 minutes remaining, placing another shot in the back right corner of the net.
Following the match Clark admitted he still felt under the weather.
“I’m still not feeling the best right now, but somehow I played through it,” he said.
Mason will face Walnut Hills for the Southwest 4 District Final on Saturday at Fairfield High School, kickoff at 7 p.m.
This time, Clark hopes to enter the match healthy – despite the joking wishes of his team.
“I told him after the fourth goal, ‘You should get sick more often,’” Reedy said.