Top-ranked Rangers remain undefeatedSeptember 13, 2021
By COREY STOLZENBACH
DUBOIS — This county rival game lived up to its billing.
Class 1A No. 1 Forest Park kept its perfect record intact with a 2-0 win Monday at No. 7 Northeast Dubois. The Rangers (10-0) know a target is on their back as the Indiana Soccer Coaches Association continues to rank them atop of their class. However, they’ve managed to embrace that target, embrace that ranking and keep fending off all opponents.
“We know what being ranked number-one means in terms of other teams and how they view us. So, we just want to stay humble and keep on keeping on,” Rangers coach Brad Weyer said.
The game was scoreless between the two teams throughout the first half of play. One reason the Jeeps (7-2) managed to keep the Rangers off the scoreboard was due to the play of junior keeper Alexis Hawkins.
The Rangers had multiple corner kicks in the first half of play, but Hawkins was there to meet the ball. Forest Park especially made a push with under eight minutes to go, but Hawkins dove on top of the ball with approximately 7:49 to go in the opening half to keep the stalemate going.
“She’s a junior, she’s got the experience and she’s really coming into her own this year,” Jeeps coach Clive Williams said of Hawkins. “She’s gotten better and better with every game 0because she actually knows what her role is now. She understands the game, and she’s out there screaming and shouting and asking for that ball.”
“Our energy was just really lacking that first 40 minutes,” Weyer said. “We were doing the things that we wanted to do, but weren’t really doing them with any sort of pace. Our pace was a little too slow for my liking.”
Forest Park scored within the first minute of the second half, but it was Northeast Dubois’ own undoing that gave the Rangers what turned out to be the game-winner. An own goal was awarded to the Rangers after an unlucky bounce off Jeeps sophomore Kelli Merkel.
“I think she just turned her head at the ball,” Williams said. “She was trying to see where the player was at and it hit her.”
Forest Park later got an insurance goal with 22:15 to go when senior midfielder Abbie Jahn made it a 2-0 lead in favor of the Rangers.
They controlled possession and shots on net for much of the way, as the Jeeps didn’t have the opportunities on goal that the Rangers did.
“We knew kind of how they were going to play,” Weyer said. “They were going to kind of sit back and absorb some pressure playing the counter and trying to beat us with some through balls over the top.”
“I think for us, it was the fact that we have got less numbers than them,” Williams said. “And so, we’re getting tired towards the end. So, we know that we have to work on our stamina to make sure we can last the whole game. When you got 17 players against 24, it’s going to be hard, isn’t it?”
Williams is giving his girls the day off Tuesday and said they’ll work on finishing and movement in addition to stamina before Saturday’s scheduled game against North Harrison.
“What’s key is finishing — finishing opportunities, making sure that we’re ready to go, making that we’re fitter than we were in this game and making sure we cover more of the field,” he said.
Forest Park will try to keep its undefeated record going Thursday at home against Gibson Southern.
“We know Gibson,” Weyer said. “We’ve gone toe-to-toe with them the last couple of years and it’s always back-and-forth and it’s always a battle. They’re a very talented offensive team. So, I look forward to that next matchup and hopefully getting the win.”
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