When facing a program with state title experience, every second of the game matters. During Thursday’s Northwest Ohio Athletic League boys soccer match between Wauseon and Archbold at Ruihley Park in Archbold, the Blue Streaks got a goal from Josiah Magallanes with just four seconds to go that gave them a 2-1 victory.
“That’s about as close as it gets,” admitted Archbold coach Sean Stewart. “It shows the kind of character that we have as a team. We’ve been building all year. A little bit of a rough start. I think we did a lot of good things tonight. Just didn’t find that final goal a lot of times. Or that final pass, or that final shot. To keep working until the end and have it pay off is pretty special.”
“It was well played. I thought both teams, we each had pretty good opportunities,” stated Wauseon coach Casey Elson. “And we capitalized on the one. It was great. My senior Brandon Martinez came up big. He said he wanted to score. I let him kick the PK and I thought it was a good shot.”
Archbold is still unbeaten in the NWOAL at 2-0-1. This win could go a long way in ensuring them a fifth straight league crown.
“It keeps us in the driver’s seat for the league. Which is what we talked about before the game,” said Stewart. “Coming off a pretty great season last year, and knowing that we had a lot of new faces to kind of introduce. A league championship is a big goal. And we’re maintaining that as a goal. These guys are on pace to do it we just gotta make sure we continue to take care of business.”
The Streaks got on the board just past the midway point of the first half when Trey Theobald finished an Archbold flurry by burying a shot in the left corner of the net for a 1-0 lead.
Wauseon’s J.T. Hutchinson was left alone behind the defense at the 5:20 mark of the half, but he rushed his shot and it was saved by veteran Archbold goalkeeper Noah Cheney.
Playing inspired to start the second half, the Indians were set up with a penalty kick opportunity following an Archbold handball near their goal. Martinez took the shot for Wauseon, and although Cheney guessed right on where the shot would be placed, it found the back of the net to tie it with 22:49 remaining.
“I thought they weren’t subbing as much as we were. And I said ‘if we can just keep attacking and keep the momentum.’ I really thought if we attacked them more and made them use their players more (we would have success),” said Elson on his team’s strong start to the half. “Especially (Elijah) Zimmerman. He’s hard to guard. I said I just want to keep an eye on him. Control it (the ball) on our half a little bit more. I thought we did a great job at that.”
Archbold turned up the pressure in the closing minutes.
Kaden Rufenacht got within 10 yards for a shot with 5:40 left, however, he got under it too much and it sailed over the net. But, with the Indians on their heels with four seconds to go, Zimmerman sent one through from the right side that Wauseon keeper Easton Delgado couldn’t corral, and it was finished by Magallanes on the opposite side.
Nevertheless, a performance like this against a defending state champion is one that Elson will cherish, even though it will go down in the loss column.
“I started (as a) assistant coach three years ago with these guys. And I think we lost maybe 8 or 10 to zero (against Archbold),” said Elson. “If you would have told me three years ago that in a couple years you’re gonna tie them and give up a goal with maybe four seconds left, I would have told someone they’re crazy. These kids have all battled so hard. I can’t be more proud of them. I said I wouldn’t want to coach any other team than the one we have here.”
Archbold (6-3-1) then won at home against Liberty-Benton Saturday, 5-2. They face Delta on the road Tuesday at 5 p.m.
Wauseon, now 4-2-3 overall and 1-1-1 in league play, hosts Evergreen Tuesday at 5 p.m.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010