Pioneers shut out Cougars
Wade Bell, Sports Writer
The North Harrison Cougars boys’ soccer team had a rough night against host Providence last Wednesday as the Pioneers rolled to a 4-0 win. The Cougars held their own for 76 of the 80- minute match, but the Pioneers used those remaining four minutes to blitz North Harrison for the “W.”
“Nobody likes to lose, but 1-0 at half, the only bad thing is we’re not getting those offensive opportunities,” said coach Kirk Wetzel. “We’ve been working on it, but this is just a great team. They’re last year’s (state) champs, like every year. So, it’s a great game to play.”
Providence controlled everything in the first half as the Cougars rarely saw their end of the field. North Harrison played well defensively, holding the Pioneers to one goal in the half, that one coming off of a close-range shot by Cris Martinez midway through the half. Providence had a total of 14 shots in the first 40 minutes, while the Cougars failed to get off a single shot.
“They’re tough to get shots on,” said Wetzel. “They’re so quick to the ball. It’s like they play with 14. They’re very quick to the ball. They pressure the ball regardless. They get the 50-50 balls.”
One big difference in this match was that it was played on turf instead of grass. The ball moves faster and players have to play faster.
“You can tell we play out in the old fescue field, and you can tell that they practice on this every day or like this every day,” Wetzel said. “They know what the ball is going to do. We never know. That’s a struggle we have. We like the speed of these, but then we don’t utilize it because we’re not used to utilizing it. It’s hard to go play on a field like this when you’re not used to it.”
The second half went slightly better for the Cougars, who managed to get two shots off in the second 40 minutes of play. The Pioneers, however, had a four-minute stretch, between 20:19 and 16:09, where Billy Hoke punched in two goals and Evan McCombs fired in a single for the 4-0 final.
“It was a great first half,” Wetzel said. “It was a great second half. They just do what they normally do. They’ll get one, then you can just see them light up and then they’ll get one or two more. When they get them, they’ll usually get two or three right away. It gets you back on your heels, and they get jacked up and go at you.”
North Harrison finished with just the two shots on goal. Goal keeper Logan McIntire was kept busy with 17 defensive stops in the match.
“That one was off of a drop and, if you hit a dropshot the way they did, it was a bullet,” Wetzel said of the Pioneers’ first goal. “I think the one (McIntire) missed he just lost track of where he was. It snuck in behind him. He thought it was wide, so he didn’t go for it, but some of the stops that he had were amazing. He does a great job.”
Providence finished with 25 shots on goal. Pioneers’ goal keeper Charlie Scott had a light day with just one defensive stop in the 80 minutes of play.
“One-zero would have looked a lot better than 4-0,” Wetzel said. “We held them for 1-1/2 halves. It was just that one four-minute stretch. We kept them pretty close. Last year, we held them well at home then they put four on us within a couple of minutes and it set the whole game. It was a good, decent game, but they just blew it open there in that four-minute stretch. They’re able to do that.”
Wetzel said his team would have no time to dwell on the loss. The North Harrison coach said one area the Cougars would have to work on is their communication skills.
“That’s the story of our life,” he said. “They don’t communicate. We’re trying to let them do that. We can’t communicate with them. Everything is so quick. By the time you communicate and they see it, it’s gone. They have to see it and communicate it. They never have. We’ve failed as coaches to do that. They do need to communicate better, and it’s going to get them more opportunities. That’s probably an emphasis I’m going to approach tomorrow, communication, especially on a team you don’t have time. You don’t have time to think. You need to let somebody else do it for you and let you know what’s going on. Obviously, communication would lead to a better offensive attack.”
“There was a lot of good stuff,” Wetzel said. “When we watch film, we’ll probably point out how they want to get to the ball. They want the ball. We kind of stand and wait, and they don’t want to wait. They go and take it from you. You take things like that from it.”