WARSAW – For the first time since 2010 Culver Military Academy was able to take home a boys soccer sectional title. The Eagles began their mission by defeating defending champion NorthWood on Monday, downing Plymouth Wednesday night then capped the run off by defeating Warsaw 3-2 on the Tigers home field.
It was Warsaw’s game to lose in the beginning. The Tigers broke a scoreless tie with a goal (25′) from Cole Voss. The sophomore netted the ball off an assist from Eduardo Calderon. The momentum was clearly on the Tigers side but that would only last for so long.
A collision of two players led to a big moment for the Eagles. Warsaw keeper Tomas Rivera had to leave the game momentarily following the collision and Adrian Juraidini took advantage of Henry Zehner’s short stint in the goal. Juraidini blasted a long shot that sailed in to knot things up 1-1 with just over two minutes to play. That score would hold through the half.
The first half was played more open with very few whistles, that changed in the second half. Players grew more frustrated know their season could be close to ending and the game got more physical in the final 40 minutes. The increased intensity led to a higher number of stoppages.
CMA capitalized early by turning a free kick into a goal. Mauricio Bailleres connected on the free kick to put the Eagles up 2-1 (48′). The foul that led to the free kick was one that Warsaw’s sideline failed to see. As the evening went on the Tigers continued to have disagreements with the decisions made by the referee and the assistants.
The Tigers were bothered, both on the sideline and on the pitch, by some of the calls but were able to block it out and still contest the Eagles at every turn. Warsaw’s Pedro Monsivais drilled an equalizer (62′) to put the pressure back on CMA.
The Eagles would not take long to get the go-ahead goal. A penalty called on Rivera in the box led to a PK for CMA. The Eagles capitalized on the opportunity, just as they had all night, as Adrian Juraidini knocked in the PK chance (65′).
For the remainder of the game it was all about the defense of the Eagles and missed chances for the Tigers. CMA would hold off the Tiger attack and punch a ticket to the regional.
“We had plenty of chances” said Warsaw head coach Frank Courtois. “We never put them away. That’s the way the game goes. If you don’t put your opponent away and they get the opportunity to finish, that’s the way it ends up.”
Courtois knew his team missed several chances to extend its lead early and take the lead late, but that is part of the growing pains of a younger team. The coach also voiced his opinion on how the game was called from his point of view.
“It’s frustrating when the referee has to play a part in the game like he (the referee) did tonight,” Courtois said. “He wouldn’t let the kids play and it seemed like it was one-sided. We touch them and they go down, we get cleats and nothing, no foul called for us. I don’t know if he has something personal against Warsaw but I’ve had that experience with him before.”
The Tigers had a rough regular season but playing a tough schedule allowed Warsaw to be prepared for the challenges towards the end of the year and, eventually, into the postseason. A lot of inexperienced players earned their stripes this season, which is just how Courtois envisioned it.
“Definitely, we had a lot of inexperience, a lot of young kids coming up,” said Courtois when asked about his team being young. “That’s the purpose of playing these guys. Now we’ll have a lot of experience coming back next season.”
Warsaw finishes the season with a mark of 4-14. CMA will advance to the South Bend Riley Regional to play Elkhart Memorial. The winner of that contest will play either Penn or South Bend St. Joe for the regional title.