Rudley Dorce said he was heartbroken.
Two weeks ago, Dorce was removed from the Kellenberg boys soccer team's starting lineup because he was underperforming, according to coach William Masiulis.
"He wasn't playing to the level of what I know he was capable of,'' Masiulis said. "He just didn't seem comfortable. We needed him to work on developing his touch.''
At first, the benching crushed the senior forward, who didn't make the team last year. In recent practices, however, Dorce responded with a work ethic that forced Masiulis to give him a second chance.
So Thursday, Masiulis decided it was time to start Dorce.
Wouldn't you know it . . .
Dorce scored three goals as host Kellenberg defeated Holy Trinity, 6-0, in a CHSAA matchup.
"I was just having a hard time finding the net before,'' Dorce said. "I wasn't playing to my full potential and I wasn't playing aggressive enough, so Coach had to take me out of the starting lineup. But this, today, feels pretty good. It all worked out today.''
Dorce scored the first two goals for Kellenberg (2-3). On the first, he flicked the ball to himself off his chest, beat one defender, then buried a shot from close range in the eighth minute. Dorce scored his second on a pretty cross from Trevor Sheridan. Dorce's third goal came early in the second half and gave Kellenberg a 6-0 lead.
Bruce Fednard, a junior, scored his first varsity goal on a breakaway in the first half. Gary Marano and Matthew Gallivan also scored for the Firebirds.
Nick Aquino led a stingy defense that allowed few shots on goal by Holy Trinity (1-5). Aquino said that as captain, he tried to instill confidence in Dorce two weeks ago and was proud of the way his teammate responded.
"It was heartbreaking, at first,'' Dorce said. "The coaches told me to keep working hard and keep getting after it because they knew I had the potential to do more, and today I think I showed it.''
When asked if Dorce did showcase his potential Thursday, Masiulis responded with one word: "Absolutely.''