MILLBURY — The lower-seed Napoleon Wildcats came out ready to go and scored a goal less than three minutes in, then they were able to tack one on near the halfway point of the second half for a 2-1 win against No. 1 seed Wauseon in a Division II boys soccer district semifinal at Lake Monday night.
It was only the Indians’ second loss of the season as they finish the 2020 campaign at 15-2-1.
So while the season did not end as they would have hoped, when the dust settles it is a year the program and its nine seniors can look back on with great pride.
“A lot of these kids, they start off as freshmen only playing for a one-win season. Those aren’t very fun to play in,” said Wauseon coach Casey Elson. “I think that this program’s kind of turned around. I don’t want to say turn the corner quite yet, because you’ve got to have consecutive years (of success). But I thought this year was a great year for the kids to have. It’s something that they can at least take home with them. Let them know, they probably had the best season of any Wauseon boys soccer team around.”
The Wildcats seemed to have the Wauseon defense out of place to start the game, leading to Devin Boettner’s goal. Boettner worked his way to the left of the net, and fired back to the right past veteran goalkeeper Easton Delgado, giving his team a 1-0 lead 2:56 in.
Boettner also had two more quality attempts in the first half.
He mimicked his goal at the 28:58 mark, a shot from the left but this time, Delgado was able to make a running save on the ball. Then, with only 10 seconds to go, he blasted one straight on from 35 yards out that Delgado had to make a leaping effort to grab.
The Indians’ best chance in the first half was with 16:23 on the clock. Freshman Benicio Torres put one on target from 25 yards out that just cleared the crossbar of the net and went under the football goalpost behind it.
“The first half I thought we came out kind of plain,” admitted Elson. “Give a lot of credit to Napoleon. They came out, they brought the intensity the first half. I thought we matched it in the second half. But you know, sometimes, when you play late in the tournament, if you don’t bring it every half, every minute then you’re gonna lose games. I think that’s what kind of happened tonight.”
With their season hanging in the balance, a stern talking to was needed at halftime.
“Halftime, wasn’t always the nicest speech I should say,” Elson said. “(I wanted to) kind of light the fire underneath their butts. Let them know, if you don’t come out and bring it, you’re gonna get upset here and lose.”
The Indians played a more determined second half, but came up just short.
With 24:04 left, Torres’ left-side corner kick set up Braden Vajen with a chance in front; however, his header was grabbed by Wildcat keeper Michael Gallagher.
Shortly after, at the 20:55 mark, Chase Sherman hammered home a ball played deep to increase the Napoleon lead at 2-0.
Wauseon really cranked up the pressure in the waning minutes.
Gavin Gerig got around Gallagher with 5:10 remaining where his shot would be deterred away by a Wildcat defender. The play was initially ruled a handball and a red card was given in light of the deflection taking place in the penalty area. But after the officials consulted with one another, the handball ruling was taken away and the Indians were awarded a corner kick instead of a PK.
Wauseon was able to get on the board with 18 seconds to go thanks to a Napoleon own goal. But the Indians could not get another shot off when play resumed.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010