Dubois finds growth, progress, but falls shortSeptember 23, 2019
By JONATHAN SAXON
DUBOIS — The Northeast Dubois boys soccer team took a step forward Monday night. It didn’t show on the scoreboard at the end of the game, but it was evident in the way they responded to the adversity in their game against Pike Central.
The Chargers came out early and hammered the Jeeps for three goals. But instead of turtling up, the Jeeps bared their teeth. They rallied back with aggressive presses in the second half, and if they had a little more time, maybe they could have shifted the tide back in their favor. However, their comeback effort against Pike Central came up just short, as the Jeeps fell to the Chargers 4-3.
Jeeps coach Clive Williams isn’t a man who believes in counting moral victories, but he was proud of the way his boys came together to fight back in the second half and almost stole the game from the Chargers (7-6-1, 2-3). The boys put their skills and will toward making up the lost ground from the first half, and Williams thought the Jeeps (4-6-1, 2-3-1) put together their most complete team performance of the season.
“It’s about each game, are we going to get better?” he asked. “Are we going to know what we’re doing more and play like a team? This was by far, in terms of the team, their best game. Their captain (junior Darrin Grigsby) went out in the first half. They all said let’s do the second half for their captain, and they fought tooth and nail out there. I can’t be more proud of them. We didn’t win the game, but I think we won on the field, as a team.”
The early going was tough on the Jeeps. Pike Central was able to jump ahead of them early, scoring two goals via junior Connor Young and senior Samuel Henson. They tightened up the field a bit, and limited shots following the second score, but had trouble getting close to the Chargers’ net. Meanwhile, a foul committed against senior Ethan Scott set a free kick sequence. Scott lobbed his shot over the wall of Jeeps, and slipped it past the goalkeeper for a 3-0 lead.
But before the end of the first half, senior midfielder Davide Menghini spied freshman forward Noah Betz on approach to the Chargers’ goal. He launched his pass in the perfect spot for Betz to take his shot, and with a flick of the foot, he found the back of the net for the Jeeps’ score.
In the second half, the Jeeps got bolder in their approach. They flew around the field moving the ball every which way to get angles on the Chargers. About five minutes into the half, junior midfielder Bryce Merkel took one for the team, as he charged into the goal area, which set up a penalty kick. Merkel was quick to cash in his chance, sailing a shot past the Charger goalie to make it a one-score game. A few minutes later, Merkel assisted on another goal, passing back to a cutting Gaige Schepers on approach to the net. The freshman forward crushed his shot and tied the game at 3 with 26 minutes left to play.
It looked like they might be able to pull off the comeback, but none of their other shots were fortunate enough to find the net. The Chargers, on the other hand, reaped the benefits of a lofty shot from freshman Nolan Nelson. Nelson planted and launched his try from just outside the goal area, and the Jeeps goalie mistimed his jump to block the arching shot. The ball fell just behind him and rolled into the net for the decisive goal. The Jeeps never gave up the push, but they could not get the last scores they needed to take the game or force a tie.
It was disappointing to not get the result they worked for, but Williams still commended the Jeeps on the growth they displayed. They weren’t nervous shooting the ball or moving upfield on the attack. They didn’t roll over in the face of a 3-1 hole. The Jeeps grew together on the field, and they’ll keep shooting in hopes for a better result next time out.
“Our coach has been telling us to take your shot when you’re open,” said sophomore midfielder Ethan Danhafer. “He won’t be mad, just take your shot.”
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