Draw: Rivals end 80 minutes in deadlock
Brian Smith, Sports Editor, [email protected]
Neither side of the soccer pitch in Ramsey –– be it the white tops or blue tops –– was all that happy after 80 minutes wound off the clock.
In a rivalry game, a tie can sting the heart, too.
North Harrison had a first-half goal and Corydon Central one in the latter half, but neither could pass the ball beyond the goal line for a game-winner. The previous meeting, in last season’s sectional, was a scoreless tie in regulation before overtime gave the Cougars the win.
The 1-1 final score saw a flurry of activity from end to end in the late moments.
“Our work ethic was better,” Corydon Central coach Justin Bottorff said of the second half. “We really stepped it up at the end and showed up for the rivalry this is. We executed our game plan a lot better in the second half.”
North Harrison kept better possession in the early going. Within the first few minutes, North Harrison’s Marcus Burgher V was on a counter, but his firm shot clanged off the far post. The ball bounced to Jake Galligan for a rebound try, but the attempt went well over the goal.
Pressure from North Harrison paid off in the eighth minute. Off a corner kick, Luke Robertson got up for a header he flicked on target. An initial save by Corydon Central’s Jacob Chaires kept the ball out momentarily. Seth Cockrell was in position to put a rebound in for the Cougars for a 1-0 lead.
“They started off real well,” said North Harrison co-coach Kirk Wetzel. “We saw what we wanted to work on after the Scottsburg game and applied it for the first 15 minutes or so. Then, fatigue possibly caused us to break down. We started to play big and got away from what works for us.”
Jack Burks, Dylan Saltsgaver and Cockrell pushed the pressure after the goal but couldn’t come up with another to get past Chaires.
After a water break at the midway point of the first half, North Harrison nearly had a second goal. A long pass from Matt Nealy in the back prompted a Carter Wetzel shot finding the back of the net. Turning back to the center of the field, the offsides flag was up, waving off the goal.
From that point forward, Corydon Central’s offense started to take shape. Lucas Lee took a free kick from 30 yards out and missed left. A flurry of Panthers crowded the goal area in the 30th minute with Samuel Tumusifu nearly getting a goal before North Harrison defender David Sieg booted the ball last second off the goal line.
Chris Smythe also had a header try in the final moments of the half for Corydon Central, but it was wide.
“The back line has been solid the last three years,” said North Harrison co-coach Marcus Burgher IV. “Wesley Harmon is one of those guys that gets to a lot. He’s big, he’s fast and he can’t slow down.”
In the second half, Tumusifu had a long shot on target, but it was saved by North Harrison’s Logan McIntire.
Corydon Central’s goal came with 21 minutes to play on a free kick. Ethan Lisher lined up over the ball and took a 40-yard crack at goal. Lofting over everybody between him and the cross bar, the ball dipped under the outstretched hand of McIntire for a jaw-dropping goal.
“I saw it open, and I went for it,” said Lisher. “Luckily, it worked out.”
“Ethan is a good kid, and he saw that opening,” said Bottorff. “That wasn’t my call, but he caught the keeper off. We talked about at half that we thought the keeper came off his line a little too much, and we caught it.”
Each team went hard during the final 20 minutes seeking the game-winner. Burgher V had an opportunity for North Harrison, while Nolan Ables and Tumusifu had chances for the Panthers.
“We’ve been getting wins, so falling down 1-0 was a good chance to play with adversity,” said Bottorff. “They are a mature group of kids with a good mindset. Most of them are juniors, but the leadership has been easy to work with.”
Coach Wetzel said the second half was an adjustment as Corydon Central upped the pressure.
“You could see they came out needing a goal,” said coach Wetzel. “It got us out of sorts. They came out the aggressor. We did better tonight against aggressive play, but we have a long way to go.”
Lisher said the Panthers were down for a bit after giving up an early goal but bounced back with better possession and chances to score.
“We started playing really aggressive and getting on them,” said Lisher. “I felt like we took control of the game and possession. The goal was to get more shots on goal. That’s been our game plan all year.”