In a game that saw opportunities for both teams, both Wauseon and Swanton put the ball in the net once as the Indians and Bulldogs played to a 1-all draw in Northwest Ohio Athletic League boys soccer Thursday afternoon at Wauseon.
“We had shots on goal and finished one, that’s the difference in the game,” said Swanton coach Joe Hensley. “We let a bad ball come across that he got a head on.”
“We didn’t have a good practice yesterday so I was worried,” admitted Wauseon coach Casey Elson about the game. “I didn’t want to give up a goal early but it happens. I was hoping after we scored one, we’d keep the momentum going.”
Swanton was able to strike first. Riley Hensley sent the ball in on the net on a free kick, and Wyatt Lake put himself in a position in front of the net to clean up and score on the confusion. It put the Bulldogs up 1-0 with 11:30 left in the first half.
“We got a foul outside the box and hit a nice curling box that hit the keeper,” Hensley said, explaining the goal. “Our kid put it in on the rebound.”
The Wauseon side saw it differently.
“I thought they did a good job of coming up and checking our goalie,” stated Elson. “It’s like basketball, a good checkout. They checked out really good and our guy blocked it, but it went right through.”
It wasn’t the only collision with the Wauseon keeper in the contest. With three seconds left in the half, Easton Delgado was again knocked to the ground on a collision with a Swanton player going for the ball. After a few tense moments, he was able to get up, and by the start of the second half was back in action.
“He is huge for us,” Elson said of his keeper. “The way we play defense is directly because of the way he plays in goal and it is very hard to score on him.”
Swanton keeper Ethan Branum had an interesting second half. He made an outstanding one-handed punch save, but also had a play that led to a scoring attempt for the Indians. Racing up to the top of the 18-yard box to play a bouncing ball, he toed and stepped over the line to grab the ball, leading to a free kick for the Indians. The ensuing Chase Soltis kick was deflected away.
“Ethan played well, but has to make smarter decisions,” admitted Hensley. “He can make the good save, but he needed to make good decisions, especially with the handball in the box. That kills momentum and a big reason they got their goal. It kept the ball down there.”
One minute later, Wauseon was able to get through. Playing the ball in the air, Aaron Newland headed in a pass from Jacob Hageman with 15 minutes left to tie the game.
“In my two years here, we’ve never had someone who can go up and head the ball like that,” Elson said of the senior goalscorer. “In soccer, it is very hard for a goalie to block a header in. That kid has worked on it for a good amount of time. I’m glad for him, it was senior night for him.”
Both teams had chances in the final 15 minutes, but both defenses and keepers kept the teams off the scoreboard the rest of the game.
Swanton finished with a 13-10 advantage in shots in the game.
Wauseon (2-7-6, 0-2-2 NWOAL) finishes the regular season with a game Tuesday at Delta. Swanton (3-9-1, 0-3-1) had a game scheduled for Saturday with Rossford. They host Bryan Tuesday and close the regular season with a game Saturday at Otsego.
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