Raiders, Jeeps battle to stalemate

By JONATHAN SAXON
jsaxon@dcherald.com

Fossen
Escobar

HUNTINGBURG — Usually when fans attend any kind of sporting event they can expect one of two outcomes, depending on which side of the bleachers they find themselves sitting. One team is going to win, and one is going to lose. Either way, there will be some sort of definitive conclusion.

But that was not the case on Thursday evening for two of the area soccer teams.

After 40 minutes of play, and four goals scored between both teams, the Southridge Raiders and Northeast Dubois Jeeps found themselves all even when the final whistle was blown, and since they are not conference opponents, the final result of the game was a 2-2 tie.

But even though the game didn’t have a traditional conclusion, both coaches found something to mine from the game.

For Southridge (7-3-1), coach Ryan Wallace said this game was all about avoiding the start of a losing streak.

The Raiders fell 3-1 in their last game against South Knox this past Monday and Wallace was disappointed in the effort that he saw from his players against the Spartans. He used this game to challenge them to get back on track and play up to their potential like they have been for most of the season.

“We keep talking about not stringing losses,” he said. “We haven’t gone the whole season with back-to-back losses, and that was our main objective. I thought both teams played pretty well. We played a pretty good first half. The second half I asked them to come out and do your job and we did to a point.”

For Clive Williams and the Jeeps (7-3-2), who came into the contest on a two-game losing skid, they saw the game as positive in their favor even though they didn’t come away with a win.

Williams thinks the team can gain back a bit of confidence knowing they went toe-to-toe with a team like Southridge and didn’t walk away with a loss.

“Southridge is a higher level than we are. We had opportunities to finish the game, but that’s okay,” he said. “I wanted to see determination and system improvement. That’s what happened, (and) we held our own.”

The entire game was a back and forth affair across the field. Southridge was faster across the grass, but Northeast Dubois was tight and tenacious with their defense. Both teams were opportunistic on the offensive end, driving inside towards the net or shooting from outside as the windows presented themselves.

Senior Jorge Soto was the first player to switch around the lights on the scoreboard after he was able to weave through the Jeep defenders and get a point-blank shot on their net at the 18-minute mark in the first half.

But it didn’t take Northeast Dubois long to respond. Senior Vetle Fossen was quick to take up the cause as he galloped down the other end of the field to plant one in for the Jeeps and tie the game up. But after the brief scoring interlude the game went back into a stalemate as both teams took turns missing each other’s nets by margins both slim and wide.

The second half was carbon copy of the first 20 minutes. The momentum of the game ebbed and flowed, but no one was able to gain that firm, manipulative grasp they needed to put their imprint on the match.

But that would soon change.

With a little over 16 minutes remaining in the second half, Fossen was once again dribbling up the field looking to score on Southridge. Suddenly he stopped about 15 yards away from the net and let one loose. The shot went through the net with sniper precision and Wallace could do nothing but acknowledge what he saw.

“(Fossen) had a great shot on goal,” he said. “Our defense was playing (well), it was just a beautiful shot.”

But it was the Raiders’ turn to make a push and even the score, and the moment was made possible by senior Jonathan Escobar. He was able to sneak in behind the defense and found himself with the ball just outside the line between the field and the net. He sent a shot up into the right corner of the goal and tied the ball game at 2-2 with 13 minutes left in the game.

During the final seven minutes both teams tried to make their final pushes to put the game over the edge in their favor, but the shots were off and the defenders closed down any chances for follow ups.

Both coaches wished their teams could have found a way to get one more shot through and take home the win, but even in a tie there are still things that both squads can take away from the game and use to help them get it done the next time they take to the field.

For Wallace, he liked that he saw his boys respond and play from behind with a purpose.

“We’ve played up a lot in this season,” he said. “I challenged them tonight. I said ‘It’s 1-1, play with your heads up.’”

For Williams, he wants his boys to get better at finishing their shots. But he also thinks that if the Jeeps can keep up the defense that limited the Raiders to two goals, they’ll be just fine as they play out the rest of their season.

“I think our defense did a really good job,” he said. “We haven’t had many goals go past us. If the defense can stay strong and the offense can put some chances in then we should do well.”




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