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Providence blanks Cougars

Providence blanks Cougars
Providence blanks Cougars
North Harrison sophomore Tucker Smith, left, battles against Providence’s Quentin Hesse in the first half of the Pioneers’ 4-0 win over the Cougars. Photo by Wade Bell
By Wade Bell, Sports Writer

The Providence boys’ soccer team used its technical skills to put away the host North Harrison Cougars last Wednesday afternoon in a 4-0 shutout. Overall, the Cougars held their own, but the strength and experience of the Pioneers proved to be too much for the Cougars, who failed to find the back of the net.

“That’s a good team and a good program year after year,” said North Harrison coach Marcus Burgher IV. “They’re a solid team, and they’re coming off two state finals runs. They won the state finals two years ago and lost last year in a game they were leading with a minute and 37 seconds to go, and it would have been their second straight state finals. They’re now a sectional opponent. They’re in the 3-A with rest of the Mid-Southern Conference and Madison, so, for us, we see what we have to get to to get to that level.”

The Pioneers struck paydirt early, catching the Cougars off guard twice. Just over a minute and a half into the first half, Ben Tackett drilled a shot for the first goal of the game. Less than a minute later, Luke Jorden found the back of the net for a goal, and the Pioneers had a 2-0 lead.

North Harrison did a quick regroup and tightened up its defense. Providence got off 12 more shots on goal in the half but either missed the mark or was stopped by Cougars’ goalkeeper Easton Tucker. The Cougars managed just three shots on goal in the first 40 minutes.

“We gave up two goals in the first two minutes of the first half, and I think after that we settled down,” Burgher said. “We were playing a little bit slower, which is one of the things this group is learning to do, play a little bit faster. The next 38 minutes and 4 seconds of the first half I thought our kids competed well. We started playing a little bit faster from a standpoint of possessing the ball, but it was faster and not just kicking it and clearing it. It was faster playing it to other players and attacking.”

The Pioneers struck early again in the second half with their first shot on goal getting in between the posts, Quentin Hesse striking the ball in for a goal. Moments later, Providence threatened again but Tucker had two big defensive stops, keeping Providence out of the net. The Pioneers finally scored just under halfway through the second half when Tackett scored on a shot from the left side.

North Harrison only managed three shots on goal with no points, and Providence had the 4-0 shutout.
“For my kids, we have not a single player on the field that started for us last year,” said the North Harrison coach. “It’s a completely new team. Our goal keeper, Easton Tucker, I thought he did a good job. This is the first year he’s ever played soccer his entire life. He’s had five games in his career. He didn’t come out to start the season. The first week of the season he wasn’t even playing then decided, ‘Hey, I’m going to give it a try’.”

North Harrison finished with six shots on goal with the Pioneers controlling time of possession. Tucker had 11 stops for the 80 minutes.

“One of the things I think our kids have to understand is the game of soccer is not a game of where it should (be) four or five or six and seven goals,” Burgher said. “Too many times kids think that’s what’s soccer is about. When you play weaker teams and you put six or seven goals or eight goals on the board, then everybody starts thinking we need to score quickly. What we’re trying to get them to understand is the part of keeping games closer, even against better teams, possessing the ball more.”

Providence finished with 28 shots on goal for the match. Pioneer goalkeepers Gus Ernstberger and Charlie Scott combined for six stops for the match.

“Overall, we’re not happy to come out losing a game 4-0, but for us to compete the whole game against what they had, they got us with three goals quickly with good goals,” Burgher said. “We had one goal we gave up where Easton tried to knock it over the top and just hit it and it hit a little short.

“So, overall, it was a good showing for us as far as growth as a team but, obviously, as a team, we want to be better than we were tonight. We’re going to get back to work tomorrow and get ready for Saturday against Madison.”