Jeeps push, but Rangers survive sleepy spell

Ariana van den Akker/The Herald
Forest Park’s Dakota Begle, left, scrapped with Evan Bauer of Northeast Dubois for possession of the ball during Saturday’s intersection of county rivals in Dubois. Begle netted his seventh goal of the season in the  first half, and Alex Russell’s tiebreaking goal with less than five minutes to play tipped the Rangers to a 2-1 victory. For a gallery of photos, click here.

Herald Sports Writer

DUBOIS — Saturdays are for sleep, college football and pancakes. And for most of a Saturday’s soccer match between Forest Park and Northeast Dubois, it seemed the Rangers were dreaming of the afternoon to come.

A wake-up call came suddenly in the form of a game-tying Jeep goal midway through the second half that had the field finally buzzing before Forest Park ultimately swiped a 2-1 victory in Dubois with a goal in the final minutes from Alex Russell.

“It seems like Saturday morning games, especially the first one, you never know what you’re going to get,” Forest Park coach Brent Sicard said. “They’re kind of out of it, not into it, and you try to get them into it really early, and for some of them you can see it’s just slow to get the focus. But (Northeast Dubois) has been a team, I always tell (our team), they’re going to play us harder than anybody we played all year.”


A drowsy first half became the story of a game between county rivals. Forest Park’s offense, which controlled possession for most of the game, found itself unable to find open shots against a Jeep defense intent on posting as many bodies as possible on its side of the field. Only after Northeast Dubois (2-2) became more aggressive downfield, creating some breathing room for the Ranger midfield, did the pace pick up, allowing Dakota Begle to free himself, collect Evan Dilger’s assist and bury a strike outside the 18-yard box past Jeep goalie Nolan Rasche.

“I was waiting for that all game,” said Begle, who has recorded seven goals this season and at least one in every game. “I knew I would have my opening once the ball fell at my feet and I just couldn’t pass it up. I finally found some daylight, my eyes opened, found the goal and I just ripped it.”

Forest Park ended the half 10 minutes later with the 1-0 advantage. For Northeast Dubois, the deficit could have felt like 100 as the Jeep attack created little offense during the first 40 minutes. But as the second half began, and perhaps the Ranger defense relaxed a bit, the Jeeps suddenly started creating havoc.

After two near goals from forwards Gavin Howell and Reid Haas, both frantic attempts as balls bounced inside the Ranger 6-yard box, success finally came by way of a Brayden Wineinger cross that bounced off a Jeep forward and deflected off the crossbar before Evan Bauer buried it past goalie Blake Altmann.

“We’re coming off a big defeat (7-2 to Washington Catholic), so I think the boys showed they can do a lot better than they did that game,” Jeep coach Clive Williams said. “From my point of view, we gave 100 percent today. They were so much better than the other night and they gave it there all out there. It’s just unfortunate that we had a few pops that didn’t go our way.”

Pace increased considerably as both offenses began to rush harder and faster upfield. For Forest Park, that meant feeding the ball to Ben Englert on the outside. Englert found himself behind Jeep defenders several times in the game’s final 15 minutes, but Northeast Dubois defender Logan Anderson — who Williams said was the Jeeps’ best player Saturday — swarmed all over the field and prevented any clean looks for Englert or the rest of the Ranger frontline.

The Forest Park surge also proved advantageous for the Jeeps, who developed much of their offense from quickly sending deep balls against a Ranger backline continually pushing forward.

“When they’re playing long balls in there, we’ve got to win them,” Sicard said. “Because if you don’t win them right away, they bang it in behind us.

“They got some quick guys up top and if you don’t win that first ball, you’re going to find yourself in trouble.”

But the pressure finally paid off for the Rangers when Begle found a rushing Russell just outside the box. Russell dribbled once to pass the defender and sent a line drive into the back of the net with less than five minutes left.

Sicard accepted the win, albeit one he was not necessarily happy with. Still, he applauded his team’s effort, even if it came a little later then planned.

“You’ve got to have that kind of finish under pressure,” Sicard said about his team’s late goal. “I commended them for getting through it and finding a way to win, but at the same time, a little disappointed in their earlier effort, but I can’t be mad at the way they finished.”

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