EARLVILLE - One lineup change made a big difference for the Earlville/Leland boys soccer team.

E/L head coach Roger Essmann switched the positions played by senior Ryan Hardin and junior Chris Collins before Friday's game.

The move worked great for the Red Raiders' offense.

Earlville/Leland beat Morris 5-1 during Saturday's non-conference game, which followed Friday's 9-0 win against Indian Creek.

"We are kind of on a roll right now," Hardin said. "We won 9-0 (Friday) night. We're passing a lot better. … The first half (Saturday), we didn't play very well at all. Then we came out and did what we did (Friday) night with some give and goes and just fast play."

Earlville/Leland led 1-0 at halftime Saturday before scoring four second-half goals to take a 5-0 lead. Morris scored its only goal with 11 seconds remaining, which came against Earlville/Leland's reserves.

Essmann's big change moved Hardin from forward to playing midfield the last two games. Collins took Hardin's forward spot after playing midfield the first 15 games of the season.

The move worked well for both players. Hardin scored two goals Saturday from his new position. Collins scored four goals Friday and two more goals Saturday.

"We moved Ryan to mid. He thought he could cover more ground in the mid area," Essmann said. "Chris was wearing down a little on us. Chris is a little stronger physically and tends to get into balls more. I think it's opened up the passing for Ryan, and plus, it is going to give him some opportunities to shoot from the outside like he did."

Hardin does not mind the move.

"(Collins) does well up there, now, and I think it's just overall better for the team," Hardin said. "I got some good, open looks and put them away."

Collins scored Earlville/Leland's first goal Saturday to give the Red Raiders a 1-0 halftime lead.

Hardin then got involved in the scoring early in the second half. Shortly after Hardin's goal, Earlville/Leland senior forward Danny Heath scored. That gave Earlville/Leland two goals in the first nine minutes of the second half and a quick 3-0 lead.

Collins added to the lead with his second goal, which came with 13:01 remaining.

Hardin finished the Red Raiders' scoring when his 30-yard free kick skipped past the goalie and into the net for a 5-0 lead with 5:51 remaining.

"(Friday) night, we moved the ball really well against Indian Creek," Essmann said. "We quit doing that all of a sudden (the first half). The second half was a much better half."

Morris got its only goal with 11 seconds remaining Saturday.

Matt Ringman lofted a shot over Earlville/Leland junior goalie Cory Buhler. That made the final score 5-1.

Buhler had six saves, and Earlville/Leland senior sweeper Trevor Becker had one non-goalie save.

E/L sophomore Tyler Becker had two assists and junior Tyler Frieders had one assist Saturday.

Morris falls to 7-7-1 overall. Earlville/Leland improves to 14-3-1.

The Red Raiders return to action today with a Little 10 Conference Tournament quarterfinal game. Earlville/Leland hosts Newark at 4:30 p.m.

Erik Hall can be reached at 223-3200, ext. 195, or at sports@newstrib.com.


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