GOSHEN – It’s been a season of slow starts for the Warsaw boys soccer team.
That trend continued Thursday night as the Tigers dug a hole and could not recover in a Northern Lakes Conference loss to Goshen.
The host Redskins, ranked No. 15 in Class 2-A, withstood a late challenge for Warsaw for a 2-1 home win.
Goshen, which won the NLC title a year ago, improves to 10-1-1 overall and clinches at least a share of another league championship at 6-0. The Redskins will close out NLC play at Elkhart Memorial next Thursday.
Warsaw, which has been slowed by injuries and lack of offense this season, drops to 6-3-5 overall and 2-2-1 in the NLC.
The Tigers missed out on a golden chance in the game’s first 15 seconds Thursday to put Goshen on its heels. The Redskins misplayed a ball near their own net right away and a shot by Brandon Reinholt did not find the net.
“If we put that one away they are chasing us,” said Warsaw assistant coach Frank Courtois. “We didn’t and they put theirs away.”
Courtois was the acting head coach for the Tigers on Thursday night as head coach Scott Bauer was away from the team for personal reasons.
The Redskins, who started eight seniors Thursday, took a 1-0 lead in the 31st minute. Senior Jose Martinez-Garcia got past a couple of Warsaw defenders and blasted a left-footed shot that curled in the far corner of the net.
Goshen doubled its lead in the second half. The hosts made it 2-0 in the 63rd minute as senior JT Plavchak played a ball through and then got it over Tiger goalie Peyton Long.
Warsaw cut the lead in half with a score with 14:16 to play off a penalty kick by senior Manuel Rodriguez. His pk came after a Goshen defender took down Sam Allbritten in the box.
The Tigers almost found the equalizer with 10:22 to play when an Allbritten header off a corner kick was just deflected over the goal by Goshen goalie Tyler Born. Warsaw had one final chance for the tie with just over a minute left as another header try by Allbritten went just wide.
Warsaw was plagued by some poor decisions on fouls and a couple of defensive lapses in the match.
“We were tired and not thinking right,” said Courtois of his team. “We have some guys playing hurt and they have to because we do not have the depth.
“We have been starting slow and did again tonight. The guys tried to pick it up in the second half. We’ve been on top for so many years. This is the year we’re struggling. We just have to go back to the drawing board.”
Warsaw was state runner-up in 2012 and lost in the semi state semifinal a year ago. The Tigers have struggled all season long to score as evidenced by the fact that they have just 20 goals in 14 matches.
Goshen, who has lost 1-0 to Elkhart Central and tied South Bend St. Joseph 0-0 this fall, was coming off a 1-0 home win over Wawasee Tuesday night.
Goshen had nine shots to seven for the Tigers. Long had six saves in net for Warsaw, while Born made six stops for Goshen. Warsaw had a 6-4 edge in corner kicks.
The Goshen junior varsity team blanked the Tigers 1-0. The Redskin JV squad improves to 14-0 and has allowed just one goal all season.
Warsaw hosts NLC foe Wawasee Saturday. The JV match begins at 1 p.m. with the varsity at approximately 2:45. It will be Senior Day for the 11 seniors on the Warsaw roster, eight of whom started Thursday night.