|Big Green, Wildcats tie in PCL soccer|
|Wednesday, October 16, 2013 12:30 AM|
By JIM METCALFE
The Big Green (11-3-2, 1-2-1) had a better first half but the Wildcats (11-2-3, 3-0-1) dominated the second to end up with a 1-1 draw to end the regular season for both teams.
Shots were few and far between in a tight-checking first half. Most efforts never got through to the keepers as the defenders kept deflecting them away.
The Wildcats had the first shot early on but Big Green backup keeper Austin Markward — subbing for the injured Colin Bendele (6 saves vs. 7 shots on-goal) got the stop.
At 34:57, the Big Green had their first foray, with Wildcat keeper Brent Hovest (5 saves vs. 6 shots on-goal) out of the goal; however, the hosts could not connect on a crossing pass.
Kalida had the next opportunity at 30:06 when Ian Richey got a 12-yarder from the left wing but Markward — just a week off the golf team — got the save.
It took another 23 minutes before either team could get a shot at the goal: at 6:52, the Green and Gold’s Alex Horstman took a shot from just outside the box on the right wing that just trickled wide left.
The hosts got the first tally with just 3:41 left in the opening half. Horstman, on a throw-in from the right sideline just outside the 18 box, connected with Brandt Landin, who headed a 12-yarder just before Hovest could intercept.
“That’s exactly what we were hoping to have happen. We knew we had to be more of a defensive team tonight because of our lack of depth,” Ottoville head man Eric Gerker explained. “We hoped we could get a goal off a counterattack and it worked. We basically had to try and hold on from there once we got the lead.”
Kalida mentor Mark Czubik wasn’t pleased with his team’s effort the first half.
“We had already wrapped up the PCL title coming in, so I don’t think my players had the right mindset coming into the match,” he explained. “For me, though, it’s another match to win. We talked a lot about ball possession because we were terrible the first half; that was the big thing we discussed.”
Whatever coach Czubik told his troops to do the second half worked.
They took advantage of the Big Green’s defensive strategy of dropping more defenders into the box and forced longer shots to own the possession most of the way in their offensive half. They had numerous chances at the goal, including six of their nine corner kicks, in the last 40 minutes.
A couple of early tries: Austin Swift at 32:45 and Adam Langhals at 25:20; just missed their target.
The hosts had an opening at 30:01 when Jared Fanning — on a counter — fired from the right side but Hovest made the stop.
At 18:51, Kalida’s Devin Kortokrax let loose from the top of the circle but a defender deflected it out of bounds.
Kalida’s offensive assault continued, though the Big Green had a chance at 11:50 when Joel Beining’s 16-yarder was denied.
At 8:08, after an intense scramble in front of the net, Langhals had a 7-yarder deflected over the top by a defender.
At 6:29, Richey nearly curled in — with screwball action — a corner kick from the right side but Markward knocked the orb out of bounds.
Twice more, Markward denied Kalida offerings: at 5:46 and 4:50; but he could not at 1:32. Kortokrax, on the right sideline, lofted a ball toward the middle in front of the goal: Langhals was in the vicinity and when Markward couldn’t quite get there to grab the ball, a defender accidentally knocked the ball into the net.
“This was the best match we’ve played in quite a while,” Gerker added. “We almost hung on. Our normal keeper, Colin Bendele, broke his hand against Fort Jennings last week and we knew Austin had some junior high experience in goal. He played great; it just came down to that one play and he just didn’t come out quick enough to stop the ball.”
Czubik figured his team played more to his liking.
“We played like I know we can. We had better ball possession,” he added. “We knew coming in they would like play more of a defensive strategy and they showed that right off the bat. We tested their keeper more the second half and he made some great saves; we also had a bit of bad luck.”
Both teams open Division III sectional play at Continental Saturday: Kalida plays at 1 p.m. versus Wednesday’s Continental/Fort Jennings winner and the Big Green plays Miller City at 3 p.m.