WARSAW – When the Warsaw and Wawasee boys soccer teams met Saturday afternoon, there was no love lost between the two rivals. While Warsaw has not lost to Wawasee in over a decade, the Warriors have made the battle on the pitch much more competitive in recent years. That trend continued in the team’s most recent meeting.
A physical game full of plenty of pushing, shoving and questionable calls gave fans of both teams more than enough to cheer for and scream about. In the end it was the Tigers that found the back of the net more often, scoring a second half goal to defeat the Warriors 1-0.
After playing a scoreless first half, the two rivals went deep into the second half before seeing the tie broken. It took 60 minutes, but the Tigers were able to crack the code on the Warriors defense in a manner that of course had some drama included. Sam Allbritten headed a ball from the end line to teammate Tito Cuellar who put the ball away to break the tie.
The play was cut and dry and executed wonderfully by Allbritten, but the Tiger senior appeared to be out of bounds when making the play so close to the end line. Wawasee keeper Korey Knafel was furious after the goal insisting that Allbritten was, in fact, out of play. Knafel’s pleading with the head official fell on deaf ears as the damage was already done for the Warriors.
Allbritten played a big part in that brief moment of offensive success for the Tigers and then went back to work playing solid defense to keep the Warriors from ever getting a clear shot at an equalizer. While Allbritten’s assist on the Cuellar goal was the obvious difference in the game, the Tigers missed quite a few opportunities to put Wawasee away in the early stages of the game.
“We should have had at least goals out there,” stated Warsaw interim head coach Frank Courtois. “We had a few chances where we were wide open, one on one with the goalie and didn’t finish. We need some work. We have to work on finishing and putting teams away, that’s our goal right now and that’s what we’ll be working on at practice Monday.”
Courtois has been named interim head coach as long-time head coach Scott Bauer is on a leave of absence.
The Tigers are 7-3-5 now on the season and 3-2-1 in Northern Lakes Conference play. The Tigers will host Northridge at 5:30 p.m. next Thursday.
Wawasee left it all on the field against Warsaw, there was no arguing that but despite the bad taste in the mouths of the Warriors players, head coach Jordan Sharp knows the team has to keep progressing and gaining confidence.
“I think it’s just a matter of belief with these guys,” began Sharp. “We’re still buying into the idea that we’re underdogs or that we don’t belong. These guys are getting better and I think that they are at a higher class than they used to be. It’s still not showing in the offensive third for us and that’s what has to change. We need to keep believing and supporting each other and it will come together.”
Sharp’s team falls to 4-5-5 on the year and 2-3-1 in the NLC. Wawasee’s next contest will be at Northridge this coming Tuesday with play starting at 6:45 p.m.
Warsaw dominated the junior varsity contest winning 6-0 over the visiting Warrior squad.