CULVER — Jordan Sharp had to tip his hat to Culver Military Academy after Wednesday’s game.
After all, the Wawasee boys soccer coach saw his team play its best game of the season on the road at the Academies, and the Warriors still lost a 5-0 decision. Still, it was one to grow on.
“This is the first game I’m finally getting excited about our squad. I’ve been waiting for our team to get excited, and I saw some things happening on the field that we haven’t seen yet all season. So a lot of positives despite the result,” he said.
“I am saying our team played well, and we still lost 5-0, so that goes to say that they did fantastic.”
CMA registered 12 shots on target to just three by its guests, and senior forward Carson Meiser completed a hat trick in the game’s 57th minute.
Meiser staked his team to a two-goal lead with two quick scores in the 11th and 14th minutes — the first on a cross from senior mid Ben Brummell — and Brummell himself pushed that advantage to a 3-0 halftime cushion via another score on a Luis Malanga assist in the game’s 21st minute.
When Marcus Holmberg’s hard drive from 30 yards out ricocheted off the goalpost midway through the 57th minute, Meiser cooly finished it into the near upper V, then tipped an imaginary hat at his teammates to celebrate his third score of the evening. The score remained 4-0 until Brummel connected with Holmburg for the final score with just under 12 minutes remaining to play.
“Almost all of their guys were able to dribble out of our pressure, but we were still trying to compete. Just props to them throughout for giving our guys a good run for our money,” Sharp said.
The Warriors may not have found the back of the net, but they did generate some offense in the shutout. Senior forward Chris Pena made a couple dangerous runs in the first half and even managed a shot on target in the 39th minute. But Pena asked to be taken out at halftime, and — counterintuitively — Wawasee looked more dangerous with their striker on the sidelines in the second half.
Senior mid Kenyon Cotton’s free kick from more than 30 yards away sailed just over the crossbeam in the 51st minute, junior mid Caleb Young’s shot in close during an empty net situation less than a minute later was only narrowly saved by Eagles junior defender Francisco Septien, and Wawasee junior forward Jace Mishler put a particularly hard rip on frame that CMA keeper Gabriel Hissong barely punched over the beam in the 70th minute.
“I told the guys that they’re going to have a void to fill with (Pena) sitting out, just kind of nursing an injury. He asked if he could step out, and I said ‘We’ll have the guys step up for you,’” explained Sharp. “I think that, hopefully, guys are realizing that they don’t have to play every ball through him. I think that maybe he kind of gets a superhero rap where our guys feel like they have to play the ball through him, so I think we’re getting a better team dynamic with him sitting out. So hopefully we he can reenter, it’ll be a more balanced side, a more fair side, so that he can play better and the whole team can play better.”
While Hissong finished with three saves for CMA, which moved to 3-1, Evan Dippon tallied seven saves, and Junior Sylvester registered one in the 66th minute for Wawasee, which dropped to a 0-1-5 start.
The Warriors host Huntington North Saturday at 2:45 p.m.
“It’s a little later than I’d like it to be, but it feels like we’re starting to make some connections that we can hopefully feel like we can compete against teams. I feel like we just need that. So yeah, looking forward to hopefully carry some of the energy and the excitement from this to some of the other teams that we’ll play, and hopefully we’ll have a better result,” said Sharp.
Wawasee also lost Wednesday’s JV contest, 8-1. Drew Williamson scored the JV Warriors’ lone goal.