A pair of teams with aspirations of a Northwest Ohio Athletic League title came out and played to a draw in the league opener, as Archbold and Swanton finished in a 2-2 tie in a girls soccer contest played in Swanton Thursday.
It was the first non-loss for the Bulldogs who came into the game at 0-2, and it was the first non-win for the Blue Streaks who were 2-0 so far on the season.
“Definitely disappointing,” admitted Archbold assistant coach Jennifer Kidder of the result. “I think we probably came in overconfident thinking that we had an easy win. And we didn’t play our game with confidence; we didn’t communicate on the field. And props to Swanton. They (head coach James Kidder and assistant Brodie Nofiziger) were both just talking and Brodie gave a really good assessment, Swanton came out and gave 150%, every single person that was on the field. Not saying that our players didn’t work hard, but we definitely didn’t come out focused and ready to go.”
Archbold went up 1-0 on Briena Partin’s shot from just inside the top of the penalty area at the 19:31 mark of the first half.
But Swanton took advantage of a corner kick nearly 10 minutes later that tied it up. Megan Haselman was the one to put the ball in the back of the net, tying the game at 1-1.
The Streaks would catch the Bulldog defense napping in the latter stages of the first half for another goal. With only 1:45 to go before the break, Leah McQuade got a quality look from approximately 25 yards away and her shot trickled off the hands of Swanton goalkeeper Keagan Young and went in, giving the Streaks a 2-1 lead at halftime.
Swanton would use that goal as motivation for their play in the second half.
“Obviously we wanted to win, but, the way we ended it for the tie I take (as) a win in my books,” said Bulldog mentor Kendra Gustafson. “Our girls, with that second (Archbold) goal we weren’t very happy because it wasn’t the greatest goal to take into the half. So it was frustrating. We gave them a little kick in the butt at half for that second goal, and we told them, ‘if you want this game we want to see it in the second half because that goal should not have happened.’ And you know what, they definitely showed us that they wanted it. They worked really hard and I feel like it was a good game that second half.”
The Dogs nearly tied it with just under 23 minutes left in the game. On a well-placed up the field pass from Alaina Pelland, Haselman appeared to have a shot at the net — until she was swarmed by the Archbold defense and the ball was directed away from the goal.
However, Haselman made up for that failed opportunity shortly after, when she rifled a shot from quarter field that found paydirt in the net and tied it at 2-2 with 19:57 to go.
The Streaks had some chances late in the game, including a flurry with around a minute left, but the Dogs ultimately kept them off the board.
“They packed in their defense. They kept seven people back and it’s gonna be hard for anybody to penetrate that,” said the Blue Streak assistant coach. “The two goals that we had were beautiful shots; you can’t take anything off those shots they were great. But, I think Swanton was happy to walk away with a tie and so they packed everyone in the back and we couldn’t get through that anymore.”
Breaking in a new goalie with the graduation of veteran keeper Frankie Nelson, Gustafson was pleased with the progress Young showed.
“My assistant Malcolm Edge he is a goalkeeper trainer as well. So he has been working with her. Number one thing was getting the confidence, and I definitely think this game showed she’s gotten her confidence — she’s working back there and we can rely on her,” Gustafson said.
Now sitting at 2-0-1 on the season with Wauseon awaiting them on Tuesday, Archbold has a lot it can take from Thursday’s outcome.
“Come in to play every single game. I think that’s all that it boils down to,” said the Streaks’ assistant coach. “I think coming out and playing our game every single time we get on the field — no matter who our opponent is — it changes everything. And then communication. We didn’t talk out there; we didn’t have anyone step up and take control of the situation.”
Archbold is next in action when they welcome Wauseon in another NWOAL matchup Tuesday at 5 p.m.
Swanton then hosted Northwood Saturday where they blanked the Rangers 5-0. The Dogs host Delta Tuesday in NWOAL play.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.