INDIANAPOLIS – Just to play for a state championship demands that every break for an entire season go your way. To play your way into your second title game in consecutive years is almost a miracle in itself.
Unfortunately for Argos, Providence got one more break to go their way and kept the Dragons from claiming a second straight state 1A soccer title by a final of 2-1.
“As upset as I am right now it really was a great game, 2-1, two teams fighting hard,” said Argos coach Todd VanDerWeele. “It stinks that we were on the wrong side of that. I’m proud of our kids. They didn’t give up. It just wasn’t our day today.”
“It hurts but to be able to get back, the effort that we put in was amazing,” said VanDerWeele. “I’m proud of our kids and years from now they will be able to remember they were part of two teams that got here. But it hurts.”
The very first break of the day went the Pioneers way in the opening seconds of the game and may have been the biggest break.
Almost instantly after the opening kick, a ball pushed forward by the Dragons seemed to catch the Providence keeper Jacob Braswell indecisive. He strayed in front of the goal, putting himself in no man’s land with no defensive help around with the Argos front bearing down on a shot. While it wasn’t pretty, somehow Braswell was able to make the play saving a shot at a wide-open goal.
Just a few minutes later Ted Redinger hit what looked like a perfect shot from the front of the box but Braswell was able to somehow get off the ground and just manage to deflect it over the goal.
“I thought that Providence looked a little bit edgy early on as we probably did a year ago when we were here for the first time,” said VanDerWeele. “They settled down. I think it would have helped us if we could have gotten one early.”
The Dragons spent the first 30 minutes in their normal attack mode, pushing the action into the Pioneers zone but about the 10-minute mark in the first half Providence found something and turned the tables.
“I felt the first 20 minutes we really asserted ourselves but then they were getting us out of shape and trying to break us down,” said VanDerWeele. “I felt like the last 10 minutes (in the first half) they really put us under pressure and I thought we dealt well with it. I don’t like to deal with it, we don’t want it to get to that, but we dealt with it well.”
The Dragons made a bid to go in at the half on top as Jacob Stults got an opportunity in front of the net with just :09 left but couldn’t make it pay to leave the game right where it started tied at zero.
Argos didn’t pullback in the second half as five minutes in they took the lead.
Redinger hit a perfect pass to Mike Richard who deaked the defender and dropped a perfect assist to Tomas Gutierrez for the first score of the match.
“He (Gutierrez) came on a lot at the end of the season,” said VanDerWeele. “Watching film I just felt like he was going to get one. He’s something different that we don’t have. He put himself in a great position and he knocked it home. We just didn’t create enough opportunities like that one.”
Providence answered back just two minutes later as Luke Hesse made good on his third shot on goal after a good set up from Lazlo Langness to tie it at one.
Both teams pressed the issue for the rest of the half but it was Providence that finally broke the tie at 14:18 when Edward Bobkoskie took a pass from David Scott and gave the Pioneers what would be the game-winner.
“We gave a foul in a spot we don’t like to give fouls,” said VanDerWeele of the play that put the Pioneers ahead. “I’m not sure until I look at the film, but it looked to me like somebody missed a mark and they were able to drive the ball and slip it in. It was a great play.”
“That’s where you have to make those big plays in the big game,” he said. “We didn’t have a lot of mistakes. We didn’t play bad. We had a couple of mistakes that cost us.”
Providence was able to hold Dragons junior offensive threats, Redinger and Richard in check for most of the game.
“I thought Michael (Richard) was on the ball quite a bit,” said VanDerWeele. “I think that he did get tired. I think he put in more mileage than usual. It wasn’t for lack of effort.”
“In the second half we didn’t deal with the wind the way I thought we would,” he said. “I thought it would help us but sometimes our passes were a little too heavy.”
“The one thing that we didn’t get all day was that we didn’t get enough corner kicks, more of those set pieces to put pressure on them,” said VanDerWeele. “We knew their goalkeeper would fumble, and he did some today but we didn’t take advantage of them.”
The Dragons end their run for a second straight title as runner’s up with a record of 18-4-1.