Wildcats lose grip in final minutes, settle for tie

Kaiti Sullivan/The Herald
Jasper's Brayden Schue moves the ball down the field during Saturday's boys soccer game in Jasper. Jasper tied with New Albany 3-3. For more photos from Saturday's match, please click here


JASPER — You don’t get very far in life leaving jobs half done, a tough pill the Jasper boys soccer team had to swallow on Saturday afternoon. They controlled most of the action from the opening whistle and held what looked like an insurmountable two-goal lead late into the game. However, focus lapses in the waning minutes gave New Albany windows to score two late goals which forced a 3-3 final result.

Wildcats coach Kyle Kendall was at a loss of words for what he saw. It was the second time this season he watched his team give up a two-goal lead and allow a draw.

“Just a lack of intensity the last 10 minutes, lack of composure,” said Kendall. “We get worried about the referee, mouthing off (and) a lot of things that don’t matter instead of focusing on the fact that if they don’t score in the last 10 minutes we win the game. We lost our focus, they got behind us a couple times and put the ball in the net.”

Jasper was sharp in the beginning, beating New Albany to loose balls and using sharp passing to make its way across the field.

Within a few minutes of the start senior forward Jackson Kabrick hustled his way into a breakaway rush towards the Bulldogs goal. Two opposing defenders tried to cut him off, but Kabrick was simply too fast for them to catch up. Kabrick raced into a one-on-one showdown with sophomore goalkeeper Quincy Rainey and with one move shifted him just out of the way to attack the corner and score Jasper’s first goal.

About 10 minutes later, the Wildcats were on New Albany’s side of the field looking to attack the net. The Wildcats moved the ball around the box for a few minutes as they looked for opportunities to shoot, eventually making their way to Jackson near the right corner. The Bulldogs swooped in to stifle any further progress, but Kabrick spotted senior midfielder Khale Burger streaking in front of the goal area. He made a pass to Burger, who wasted no time in turning and shooting his way past Rainey to put Jasper up 2-0 with little over 26 minutes remaining in the first half. The Wildcats took a couple more shots when they could, but mostly leaned on their strong possession game to keep the Bulldogs from establishing any sort of rhythm for the remainder of the first half.

The Bulldogs came out determined to flip the script in the second half, coming out with increased levels of intensity and aggression as the game took on a more physical texture.

The Wildcats duked it out with them for the half’s first 10 minutes or so as both teams wrestled for control of the game’s momentum. The Bulldogs were finally able to force a break through when senior forward Hayden Krebs worked his way to Jasper’s goal and dished one past Wildcats senior goalkeeper Quentin Harmon.

But the Wildcats responded in a flash, marching straight back down the field to score their third goal via a line drive from junior midfielder Malte Fjarstedt.

The Bulldogs kept clawing and fighting, not willing to succumb to the pressure of a 3-1 deficit. They continued to make charges into the teeth of the Wildcats’ defense for the next 20 minutes while Rainey used all of his skills and talents to plug up the net. The Bulldogs were turned away multiple times, but their perseverance was rewarded in the final few minutes.

With a little over two minutes left Krebs took a shot at Jasper’s goal from about 20 yards out which somehow landed true to get the Bulldogs within one goal of the Wildcats.

New Albany then swept the ball away from Jasper as the Bulldogs made their way up the field, and senior forward Noah Litzelswope used the opportunity to take one final shot at the Wildcats’ net which tied the game and stunned the crowd.

Jasper tried to put up one final rally with less than 90 seconds left in the game, but miscommunications on the field ran off precious time. The Wildcats didn’t make it far past midfield when they took their final shot and what looked like a victory ended in a stalemate.

The look of disappointment was spread all over the Wildcats’ faces in their post game huddle. They knew they had let the game get away from them. Their coaches reminded them of the last time the Wildcats let their lax play spoil a good finish in their game against Evansville Harrison a little over a week ago. The fact that they didn’t lose was not enough to lessen the sting.

“We thought that we had the win,” said Burger. “I guess we kind of let up and didn’t execute the way we should have. We’re going to have to work on a lot of things.”

Kendall said it was frustrating to see the team fail to close out the game in the final two minutes, but he hopes that Saturday’s outing leaves them with a solid lesson about the importance of playing a full game of soccer and not letting up until the clock strikes 0:00.

“We’re going to get out here and get to work,” he said. “We did everything right today for 70 minutes, it’s just a matter of finding that last ten minutes in us. Today was one of the best games we played, it’s just got to be 80 (minutes).”

Jasper (2-2-2) hits to the road next Tuesday to take on Big Eight Conference rival Vincennes Lincoln.

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