OTTAWA — Nerves may have gotten the best of the Miller City boys soccer team during the first half of their Division III sectional semifinal versus Lincolnview Tuesday evening at Kalida.
That changed in the second half once the Wildcats were able to get a goal. Once that happened, the Wildcats played a little looser and added to their lead as they defeated the Lancers 3-0.
The win advances Miller City (10-7) to the sectional finals Thursday evening against top-seeded Archbold (16-0) at 5 p.m. Kalida and Ottoville play in the second game.
Neither team was able to dent the back of the net the first half, although the Wildcats had some good scoring chances.
Early in the second half, the Wildcats’ Jared Snyder had a close range shot on-goal that Lancer goalie Mark Evans was able to grab.
Minutes later, Miller City got on the scoreboard after a foul called on a Lancer player just outside of the box. On an indirect kick, Snyder touched the ball and Ross Kaufman blasted a shot past Evans for a 1-0 Miller City lead with 31:33 left in the contest.
That was the goal the Wildcats needed to help them relax and play their game.
“I could see the nerves tonight when we got here,” Miller City coach Tom Klear said. “I told them last night just start relaxing this morning, but nerves set in once we got off the bus. We were tight and we weren’t doing anything we were supposed to be doing. We weren’t communicating and it didn’t seem like we were playing like we can. The second half, we had an opening where we started to communicate, started to hustle and talk more, where we got some good passes and good crosses. We played much better.”
With the lead, the Wildcats could start to force the issue, which led to their second goal five and a half minutes later. As Snyder drove the inline, he was tripped in the box, which led to a penalty kick with 26 minutes left. Kaufman took the penalty kick and scored his second goal of the match.
Kaufman nearly had a hat trick as he put a shot on-goal with 20 minutes left that Evans was able to save.
Miller City’s final goal came with 17:20 left as Brent Riepenhoff scored when he tipped a pass past the Lincolnview goalie and into the net.
While the Wildcat offense settled down in the second half, their defense continued to play well. After the Lancers had two shots on-goal the first half, they managed only one in the second half that Wildcat goalie Austin Lammers saved.
Many of the Lancers’ shots were forced wide as the Miller City defense didn’t allow them a lot of room to get quality shots.
“I think our defense did a great job, especially the second half,” Klear said. “They got one shot on-goal. We contested everything and didn’t give them anything too close.”
While Lincolnview coach Mark McCleery was pleased with his team’s first-half performance against the Wildcats, he felt his team was taking too many chances the second half that hurt them.
“I was ecstatic with the first half,” McCleery said. “We got into some bad habits the second half with sliding and I think that gave them the penalty kick. Plus, it makes us a slower team when we are on the ground. All in all, we played a great first half but I was disappointed with the second half.”
The Lancer offense suffered just a bit Tuesday evening as one of their starting midfielders was injured in a contest Saturday. The player was out on the field but not 100 percent, which limited his effectiveness for the sectional contest.