WARSAW – Knowing what it feels like to be upset, Plymouth exacted a revenge so sweet Monday night.
After Wawasee rallied to defeat the Plymouth boys soccer team, 3-2, last Thursday in the regular season finale, Plymouth turned the tables and stuck it to Wawasee, 3-1, in the first game of the Warsaw Boys Soccer Sectional Monday night. The reversal of fortunes for Plymouth in the knock-out round was an obvious motivator.
“I think its tough when you beat a team once, and then they have to come back and beat us a second time. I think that puts a little more pressure on them,” stated Plymouth head coach Josh Martin. “I think we knew the first time we played them we had a couple of letdowns. They worked for it, but we gave them a penalty kick and another play where we lost some runners in the box ball watching.
“We knew we needed to be better with our opportunities, and today we did that.”
The constant pressure Plymouth put on Wawasee’s net, along with the craftsmanship of its strikers, would be the difference in the match. And just like in last Thursday’s matchup, Cesar Aguilar would be in the middle of things for Plymouth.
Aguilar, who had both of Plymouth’s goals last week against Wawasee, notched the game’s first two goals Monday night. The first came in the 47th minute on a nifty set of moves outside the Wawasee penalty area, finished with a solid right foot past Warrior keeper Korey Knafel. The second goal was the design Plymouth had hoped to master all game, but settled for brilliance in the 68th minute.
Following a shot on target by Wawasee, Plymouth keeper Zach Lee sent his punt down the left side. After a pair of passes, the ball found Aguilar again in space nearing the Wawasee net. The counter worked, as Aguilar slotted left corner again for a stunning 2-0 lead.
Plymouth would tack on its third goal in the 73rd minute when Aguilar backheeled a pass to Clay Marshall on the right wing, who crossed the ball into space to a wide open Gonzalo Figueroa who did not disappoint.
“With as many times as we have given up leads this year, I was nervous,” admitted Martin. “Once we hit the third goal, I was definitely a lot more comfortable. Then one pops back in and I’m right back into that scary situation. I had confidence we could still pull it off. We have been looking to finish some games strong all year and we always say the second season is the most important. We kind of are looking for that potential now.”
Wawasee would finally shake the dust off its shot machine three minutes before time when Rasmus Rich sent a rocket to net that beat Lee right side. The Warriors would clog the Plymouth penalty area moments later and thought they had drawn a penalty, but a potential handball was waved off by the head referee.
Wawasee matched Plymouth in shots on target at 13 and forced Lee into 12 saves. Lee’s best effort came in the second half, blocking a Rich shot from 15 yards out and Lee also had to manage a shot to open the second half by Ricky Camargo that rattled off the crossbar and down, which was punched out for a corner. Knafel was good for nine saves for the Warriors.
“Aguilar surprised me a little bit. The last game he was a little quiet and this time he brought it,” stated Wawasee head coach Jordan Sharp. “I was impressed, and a little disappointed that he brought it. That happens. I thought we did our best. They just took it to our guys. We sometimes had two guys on them and they brought it around us. They are pretty dynamic and they ball fell their way.
“It deflates us, but what I was excited to see was we got scored on first, and throughout the whole rest of the season it deflated us and we died. Tonight, there was fight in us. We are going to try to put it away, put it in the net. We played the full 80 and it was exciting to watch.”
Plymouth (5-11-2) will carry on to face NorthWood in the sectional semis opposite a clash between defending state runner-up Warsaw and Culver Academy. Wawasee (6-9-3) will look for answers in the offseason.
“We were a little misguided in attack the first 25 minutes,” Sharp said. “We were in there, knocking on the door. Just kind of plopping balls in there, maybe not the best spots hoping for the perfect opportunity. The ball just didn’t fall our way and that’s unfortunate. I thought our guys played amazing soccer and it’s the best I have seen them play yet.”