With an opportunity to capture their first win of the season, the Wauseon boys soccer team took on non-league opponent Toledo Central Catholic on Thursday. Although the Indians had a strong defensive effort throughout the first half, The explosive offense of the Fighting Irish proved to be too much, as they went on to capture the 4-2 victory.
Although Wauseon came up short, head coach Shawn Kaufmann had nothing but good things to say about the Indians’ performance.
“The team probably played their best game all year” he said. “We are starting to get a better understanding of our timing. The defense really showed up today, but unfortunately the offense could not get it done.”
For the first 30 minutes of the first half, the Indians kept the Irish off the board, largely due to keeper Lucas Blanchong’s impressive performance, recording over 20 saves. Senior Zach Fink sparked the Indian’s offense by punching it in at the 26:30 minute mark. The momentum shifted, however, once Fink came down with a leg injury 10 minutes after.
“We had to learn how to live out there for a little bit while Zach was hurt.” Kaufmann added.
“Without him, we had to start sharing the ball more in order to drive it down field.”
During Finks’ absence, the Indians were unable to defend Central Catholics Miguel Montantes’ push, tying the score at one goal apiece with 9:20 to go in the half. With 2:30 left, the Irish once again punished the Indians when Blanchong met his match against midfielder Brady Byrd’s penalty kick, which gave the Irish a 2-1 lead at the half.
The second half began much like the first, very defensive. Blanchong continued his stellar performance after two big saves at the 30:30 and the 26:10 mark.
“Lucas made some outstanding plays, just as we knew he was capable of. I think he may have guessed himself on coming out on one but it didn’t end up hurting us, other than that, he made some great saves, especially the last half.” Kaufmann stated.
The Indian offense began to warm up as well with the return of Zach Fink at the beginning of the half. Senior Aaron Spieles had an open look to score but just nicked it high at the 31:40 mark.
Fink had an opportunity to punch one in with 20 minutes to go but was stopped by Irish keeper Jeremy Rife.
Wauseon was finally able to add to their score at the 18:54 mark when sophomore Levi Whitman headed one in from 20 yards out, tying the score once more at 2-2. “Levi had contributed a lot more today than he had been.” Kaufmann said. “He was definitely a player that stood out for us today.
Central Catholic spent no time striking back, however. With 13:37 to go in the contest, Byrd showed off his speed by beating out three defenders and scored in the right corner past Blanchong, making it his second goal of the day.
For the remainder of the game Central Catholic had no trouble keeping the ball on the Wauseon side of the field. The Irish added the exclamation point with just 5:23 to go from a short shot made by sophomore forward, Mason Orians.
With this win, the Irish end a 3 gaming losing streak, making their record 4-5. Making their win possible was their steady offense throughout the game, including big performances from Byrd and Orians.
The Indians will play Tuesday in a home battle against Continental.
Reach Evan Kost at [email protected]