OT decides rematch
Throughout the season, Clint Clark said the North Harrison boys’ soccer team battled to victories or ties in many matches.
One match in particular, hosting Christian Academy of Indiana back on Aug. 29, the Cougars needed a late goal to land a 2-1 win.
Kicking off the Class 1A Providence Sectional, the two teams met again last Wednesday. The re-match, an up-and-down affair on the artificial turf, needed overtime to decide the advancing team. Ninety seconds in the first of two overtime periods, CAI’s Declan Hamm scored, paving the way for the Warriors to advance to the next round. The score, 2-1, mirrored the regular season, this time with CAI on the winning side.
‘I’m not dissatisfied,’ Clark said. ‘I commend (CAI) because they played well, as did we. They played better possession this time against us. When it’s play hard or go home, it’s a great motivation. I think we saw two teams play that way tonight.’
In the overtime, Hamm made a run down the right side, as the Warriors did much of the game. Once he received the ball in space, he was one on one with North Harrison keeper Quinn Kaiser. Hamm crossed a shot to the back of the net, giving the Warriors a 2-1 lead.
‘It was our only mistake,’ Clark said. ‘We let a guy get in behind us, and it broke down from there.’
Overtime periods, two seven-minute opportunities for teams to score, gave the Cougars a shot to equalize. Noah Yost fed a ball to Isaac Gleitz for an open shot that sailed over the bar. Keeping up the chances, Andrew Robertson fired another with five minutes remaining but was turned away.
‘Tonight, they had heart and didn’t give up,’ Clark said.
Time eventually ran out for the Cougars, who finished with a program best 11-2-2 record. They set high marks for goals scored (55), most shutouts (six) and fewest goals given up (17) in a season.
‘It’s been a tough year for our seniors and team, but they have nothing to hang their heads about,’ Clark said. ‘The year has been crazy. We won 11 games and, besides the Providence game, was tough battles.’
Providence went on to beat CAI 6-0 in the championship game.
The opening half last Wednesday featured plenty of attacking action by CAI and counter attacks by the Cougars.
Kaiser came up with several quality saves, many on crosses in by the Warriors. The sophomore made diving saves on shot attempts by Cole Ragland and Hamm.
Shots started to come for North Harrison in the final 10 minutes. Antonio Coelho and Hunter Ganote took tries on goal but failed to score.
Scoreless at half, North Harrison made adjustments, particularly on the offensive side, to get the tide turned.
Ganote fired a shot just over the bar and through the football goal posts. Combination play between Ganote and Robertson set up a swift shot by Gleitz that was saved.
Ganote set up an aerial pass to the long Robertson, whose header in front of the box was denied by keeper Williams Hussung.
‘We play a 3-4-3, but it is with more of a triangle up top with two forwards pinching,’ Clark said. ‘When we stretch it to a more conventional three forwards straight across, we don’t play or possess well. We made the correction with our forward to stay connected, rotate and then allow our midfielders to make runs.’
The creation of opportunities paid off in the 59th minute. After taking a corner kick, Ganote floated toward the center of the field while Robertson maintained possession. A return pass to Ganote allowed him to dribble through three defenders and blast a shot past Hussung and in the goal.
The goal set off a celebration.
CAI’s Ragland nearly equalized with a shot, but quick hands by Kaiser saved the try.
The equalizer eventually came with six minutes left when Ragland swung a ball in from the left toward the box. Max Samourian banged a one-timer in to knot the match at 1-all, setting up overtime.
‘When we scored the goal, I thought we could hang on for the last few minutes, but they know how to get open,’ Clark said. ‘(CAI) is good at getting the ball down the line and finding open guys. You have to be perfect on defense with your marks, especially near the goal. We can have the greatest goal keeper around, which I think we do in Quinn, but point-blank shots can be hard to save.’
The Cougars graduate six seniors: Clayton Fonda, James Medina, Carl Robertson, Andrew Robertson, Kyle Ballew and Yost. They helped lead North Harrison to the first Mid-Southern Conference title in program history.
‘I’ll miss those six guys,’ Clark said. ‘Next year, we will start working again and keep building and improve our soccer and possession skill. We won’t go away. This senior group will be remembered as the ones that started the run we’ll hopefully go on.’
Clark said he’s felt the support for the growing soccer community at North Harrison. The well wishes became personal after the Clark family lost their home a few weeks ago to a fire.
‘I learned a lot about the community,’ Clark said. ‘There have been a lot of people showing us they care.’