Evergreen’s fledgling boys soccer program has improved by leaps and bounds this season.
For 71 minutes the very youthful Vikings stayed even with high-powered Wauseon in a 1-1 deadlock.
However, in the last nine minutes, experience prevailed as the Indians knocked home a pair of late goals to break the gridlock and score a 3-1 win over the Vikings Thursday at Evergreen.
“We have a great offense and Evergreen kind of knew that and they sagged and put back eight guys,” explained Wauseon coach Casey Elson. “We saw that and we kind of knew we had to keep it on our side to be alright with it.
“I told the guys after the game that to win big games like this was, we need every single person. It can’t be just a one-man game or a two-man game. At the half we said that if you want to win a league title that these are the gritty games you are going to have to play.
“I think (coach Dave Skoczyn) is doing a heck of a job over here at Evergreen. He has turned the program around really well. This year I feel even though they are young that they have a really good thing going.”
The win keeps Wauseon unbeaten (3-0) in the NWOAL and puts them in the driver’s seat heading toward a league title.
The Vikings suffered their first league loss and stand at 5-2-1 overall.
It took just 11 minutes into the game for the Indians to dent the scoreboard as Braden Vajen found Eli Delgado, who beat Viking goalie Jon Burnep on the left side for a 1-0 Wauseon lead.
From that point for the next 60 minutes Burnep became a wall, turning away eight Indian shots on goal.
Easton Delgado was just as much a rock for the Indians, knocking away three Viking shots in the first half — including Evan Lumbrezer’s point blank bullet from the middle with 1:25 left.
“We have a great goalie in Easton Delgado,” expressed Elson. “He’s been with us for four years now and the first few were really hard on him, but tonight I believe he surpassed the 500 save mark. That’s a heck of an accomplishment. I tip my hat to him, he works his butt off every day. “
One minute later though, on a free kick situation just outside the goal box, the Vikings ran the deception onside kick football play with Lumbrezer running past the kick from the left and Tyson Woodring coming in from the right, and the Viking freshman stuck his shot in the upper left corner to even the score at halftime.
Wauseon’s pressure in the second half got them numerous opportunities but Kaden Sanford knocked away a bunch of Indian possibilities and for a while the ones that Wauseon could get a shot on, Burnep came up with the save.
The Indians were equally as stingy as Logan Richer and Maddux Chamberlain hindered the Viking attackers that had produced 23 goals in their last three games to just six second half shots, which Delgado saved four.
“Logan is a very experienced sweeper,” said Elson. “I always tell him ‘that’s the position I played so if you do something wrong you will definitely get noticed by your coach’, so he did a great job directing traffic back there and Maddux — who is new this year — is a good physical type guy who does a great job as well.”
Finally, with 9:21 to go off a rebound, Vajen punched the ball past Burnep to give the Indians the lead.
Five minutes later in a free kick play very similar to the one Evergreen scored on, Delgado used a screen to score in the upper right for the game-clinching goal.
The Indians moved to 9-1 on the season with a 7-0 shutout of Northwood Saturday. It was in that contest that Easton Delgado recorded his 500th career save.
The Vikings host Bryan Tuesday in another NWOAL contest. Wauseon hosts Swanton.
Reach Joe Blystone at firstname.lastname@example.org