HUBBARD - Toward the end of Matt Pasternak's sophomore season in 2012, Lakeview coach Nate Mailach handed him one of the captains' armbands, a distinction that he's kept in 2013.
The role suits him, as shown Wednesday at Hubbard Memorial Stadium. The junior midfielder blasted four goals in the Southeast net and recorded an assist as the Bulldogs cruised to an 8-1 win over the Pirates in a Division II district semifinal.
Those statistics raised Pasternak's goal total to 16 and assist total to a team-high 17, making him the Bulldogs' leader in points with 49.
"Everybody knows how he plays on our team, and he practices just as hard as he plays," Mailach said. "He can be a vocal leader at times, and other times, he leads by effort. He's all over the place. He doesn't even have a set position. I just tell him to go out there. He just does whatever he wants, and it's worked out pretty well for the past three years."
Pasternak said he understands the enormity of being named a captain as a junior, especially on a Lakeview (15-1-2) squad that has nine seniors on the roster this season.
"It's a huge honor knowing that I can help lead people," Pasternak said. "Knowing I'm a leader on this team is big because there's a lot of seniors on this team. (I) just come out and play and help people get better everyday."
Against Southeast (12-5-2), Pasternak showed why Mailach and his teammates hold him in such regard.
With the Bulldogs jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first 11 minutes and a 6-0 lead before halftime, Pasternak led the charge, scoring all four of his goals in the first 40 minutes.
All of them came from shots outside the 18-yard box, and on two of them, the junior dribbled through the Pirate defense before finding the back of the net. His goal in the 35th minute showcased his dexterity, as he drilled a shot from 20 yards out with his left foot.
"One of my strengths is being able to use both feet," Pasternak said. "Being able to shoot with the left foot and being able to shoot with the right foot, it helps out a lot."
While his goal-scoring effort on Wednesday was impressive, Mailach said some of his other traits are sometimes overlooked.
"It's not only his goal-scoring - it's his creativity and his field vision," Mailach said. "He's spraying balls all over the field from one side to the other, 40, 50 yards in air hitting them right on the dime. You can't give him an inch. He's on a different planet than everybody else right now."
To go along with Pasternak's playing on whole other level, the Bulldogs did as well from Southeast, as the Pirates couldn't recover from going down so big so early.
Despite the big loss, Southeast coach Rick Harsh said his team has plenty of reason to look at the season in a positive manner. The Pirates finished second in the Portage Trail Conference, County Division, and they made a run to the district semifinal as a seventh seed.
"I'm proud of my boys," Southeast coach Rick Harsh said. "We were the seventh seed, we won 12 games this year. It's a big turnaround for our program, and we're proud of our season."
The Bulldogs now return to the district final for the third straight year, and having won the previous two trips, they will look to make it three in a row on Saturday against Canfield, which earned a berth in the final after a 2-1 win over Poland.
The two schools haven't played this season, but they have met in the district semifinals the past two seasons. Mailach said this final matchup will be a tough one.
"I thought Canfield would come out of the bottom (half of the bracket)," Mailach said. "It will be a battle - it always is when the two of us play."