Cougars shut out by Patriots
Brandon Miniard, Sports Writer, [email protected]
The North Harrison boys’ soccer team opened its season last Wednesday on the right foot in a promising 2-0 shutout at Mitchell. What went around came around on Saturday, as the Cougars opened their home portion of the 2021 campaign by being shutout 3-0 by visiting Heritage Hills.
The Patriots, normally a perennial soccer power, were coming off a down 2020 season that saw them go 9-6-2 (6-5 Pocket Athletic Conference). They showed flashes of the program that won 57 games between 2016 and 2019 halfway through the first half when Patriots’ senior Brody Ficker broke away from the pack and fired a perfect shot into the back right corner of the net.
That opening goal set the tone for the Patriots’ defense, which denied the Cougars multiple scoring opportunities throughout the contest. Not satisfied with a 1-0 lead, Patriots’ senior Gabe Staggs and freshman Oscar Lara added a pair of second-half goals for extra breathing room for the remainder of the contest.
Not only did they fail to score, the Cougars’ offense struggled to get the ball to the Patriots’ side of the field for much of the first half. While that aspect improved in the second half, it made little difference in the loss. Cougars’ head coach Kirk Wetzel noted that the offensive struggles were not isolated to this contest.
“It’s been our problem for a long time now. It’s something we’ve been working on, but we’re still struggling to do that,” he said. “It’s good to get to play a strong team like this. They’re a good team; they’re always a good program. There’s no good loss, but 3-0 against a team like that isn’t bad.”
With the win, the Patriots moved to 3-0 on the young season. While the overall record is good, it’s made better by the fact the team has yet to surrender a goal.
While the early loss threw mud in the Cougars’ hopes for a 2-0 start to the season, there were positive takeaways from the contest.
“I think we possessed (the ball) pretty well, for the most part,” senior goalkeeper Logan McIntire said. “(Heritage Hills) was pretty quick, so it was hard for us to hit our perfect spots that we wanted, but our shots were pretty much on target once we got them.”
The Cougars (1-2) continued their journey Monday by traveling to Jeffersonville, losing 2-0. They will finish the week on Saturday when they travel to face Christian Academy of Indiana for a 10 a.m. start.