Pats use second half rally to best JeepsSeptember 29, 2020
By JIMMY LAFAKIS
DUBOIS — As the evening sun loomed over the Northeast Dubois soccer field on Tuesday evening, the Jeeps engaged in a fierce contest against the Heritage Hills Patriots.
When the dust settled, the Patriots (9-4-2) emerged victorious in a physical 3-2 game. Two late goals from junior Jose Lara paved the path to victory over the Jeeps (8-3-2).
“Dubois has got a good program,” Heritage Hills head coach Joe Asbury said. “We respect the heck out of them. We enjoy getting to play them. It’s an out-of-conference game, but it’s always a good game. It helps both teams get ready for the tournament.”
Heritage Hills drew first blood after junior Derek Fortune ripped an early shot from the box. The Pats countered several of the Jeeps’ subsequent strikes, but the equalizer came with just under six minutes to play in the frame.
As the half dwindled down, Northeast Dubois maneuvered through the teeth of the Heritage Hills defense. Jeeps junior Easton Deno put himself in position to score and knocked in a goal.
A swarm of blue jerseys rushed to celebrate with Deno after the strike. With 19 seconds remaining in the half, the Jeeps found another reason to rejoice.
When the ball careened toward Noah Betz, the Northeast Dubois sophomore seized the opportunity. Betz ripped a quick header off the ricochet and gave the Jeeps a 2-1 lead before the break.
“It took them a little bit to get going,” Northeast Dubois assistant coach Blake Schulthies said. “Once we scored that first goal, they kind of thought, ‘This is a game we want to win.’ They kind of rallied behind it. Being up at half was definitely a strong point. “Sometimes, being up at half can be the worst thing,” he continued. “I would have liked to have been up a few more points. Nonetheless, I was really proud of the team.”
Armed with newfound momentum, the Jeeps staved off a slew of Heritage Hills attacks early in the second half. In the heat of the action, neither team wanted to surrender an inch.
The intensity ratcheted up a notch in the final 10 minutes of the game. The Pats stayed on the offensive and found the back of the net in some of the game’s most crucial moments.
Lara worked his magic in the clutch. After tying the game at 2-2, he saved his best trick for last — the golden goal.
“Nothing against the Dubois kids and the rest of my kids, but he was the best player on the field tonight,” Asbury said. “He clearly showed that at the end.”
Indeed, those goals were the byproducts of unseen hours.
“I love it,” Lara said. “That’s all I’ve been doing. Every single time I have some free time, I go out and play. I practice some things I need to do and get better every day.”
Heritage Hills will play its next game on Thursday at South Spencer, while Northeast Dubois will host Tell City.
“I love these kids,” Asbury said. “It’s been a rough year. Everybody has had a tough time and a tough go of it in 2020. Our kids are hanging in there for each other. They’re still having a good time, working hard and improving.”
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