Boys Soccer Tops Giants In Sectional Play

Posted on October 2, 2018 in Boy's Soccer, Fall Sports

Junior Sam Boyer

Junior Sam Boyer (orange) attacks the ball in goal during the Eagles win over Marion in the sectional.

BY SCOTT HUNT – shunt@chronicle-tribune.com
KOKOMO – The boys soccer sides from Marion and Oak Hill have grown accustomed to playing close matches over the past three seasons, so it figures that Monday’s Class 2A Sectional 21 opener at Northwestern High School would be no different.

Indeed, the match was as close as could be. However, the ending in Oak Hill’s 1-0 win over the Giants was different.

Not since 2009 had the Golden Eagles topped the Giants, recalled Oak Hill coach Joel Garverick, who was a freshman that year, but didn’t play.

Goals were obviously hard to come by in the battle, but even getting good shot attempts was a challenge for both sides.

Unofficially, Marion sent eight shots on goal at Oak Hill keeper Sam Boyer with no success while the Eagles also tested Giants’ keeper Malik Smith eight times, and the sophomore turned away all but one.

And the game winning goal had a bit of a right place, right time feel to it. The Golden Eagles put a throw-in deep in Marion’s zone past the midway point of the first half. Gavin Holz touch-placed the ball in front of the goal, and it bounced to the foot of Dalian Leach who delivered it into the net with 14:49 remaining of the opening 40.

“I was talking to my players (on the bench) so I didn’t even see it,” Garverick said. “From what I understand, it kind of came out of a throw-in and a little bit of scrapping, which was kind of the name of the game today.”

Garverick implored his side to be the tougher team prior to Monday’s match and the Eagles responded.

“You had to scrap and fight and claw for every loose ball and every inch that we needed, because Marion didn’t give it to us, they’re tough as nails,” he said. “Our message all year was we’ve got to be that tough. Hats off to (Marion) and much respect to them. On the goal … might have been a little bit of luck there, but sometimes you need some luck.”

Oak Hill then made sure the Giants had a hard time finding any luck or goals with its stingy defense and Boyer’s outstanding play in goal. Familiarity with the Giants played some role in the effort but execution was a bigger factor.

“Staying tight (defensively),” Boyer said was one key. “We’ve been working on it in practice a lot, and we’ve been having issues with it in the season, but we’ve really gotten it together in the postseason.

“I knew Marion likes to play high ball, so I played higher on my line to intercept those balls that came,” he added.

While the Eagles’ defense appeared to frustrate the Giants at times during the match, Marion coach Jorge Berry was also frustrated by his side. Maron had a limited amount of good scoring chances, a couple in each half, but couldn’t make a connection with any.

“If we play the ball simple and play the ball the way we can, we probably could have had two or three goals in the first half, and we wouldn’t feel the way we’re feeling right now,” Berry said. “Hats off to Oak Hill. This is how they play when they play against us, this is their game of the year and they rose to the occasion.

“We had a mistake, lack of communication and we give up a goal. That’s what happens,” he continued. “If we would of opened the game up and used the width (of the pitch), we would have exposed them so much more. For some reason, high school players think they know it all, regardless of who says it, they’re going to do what they want to do.”

Garverick said he’s had to make some personnel changes with his defense during the last few weeks of the season, and while it’s still somewhat of a work in progress, the Golden Eagles put together their best defensive performance at just the right time.

“The biggest thing we were able to do is we really had good position, and we were trying to dictate where they were going to go with the ball,” Garverick said. “We didn’t do that 100 percent of the time, they obviously had their chances. We got some blocks and Sam got some nice saves. For the most part, their position was good and they were fundamentally solid about the things we’ve been talking about all year.

“We put it together at the right time,” he continued. “We’ve kind of struggled off and on, defensively, all year, but they really stepped up when it mattered most and played a heck of a game.”

The win earns Oak Hill a spot opposite Western, a 6-1 winner over Tipton on Monday, in Wednesday’s 5 p.m. semifinal at Northwestern. The host-Tigers will square off with Mississinewa at 7 p.m. with the winners meeting for the sectional 21 championship Saturday at 7 p.m.

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