By Mike Deak
SYRACUSE – Wawasee girls soccer head coach Luis Camargo vividly remembers the last time his team beat Lakeland Christian Academy. Camargo relived the feeling all over Thursday as his club defeated the Cougars 3-0 at Warrior Field.
Camargo’s first career coaching win came at LCA a season ago, and after being close with no result through the team’s first six matches this season, Camargo got his first win of the 2021 campaign against the same Lakeland Christian squad.
The match was headed to a scoreless first half as the two teams had combined for one true shot on goal through 32 minutes. But as LCA took a goal kick, Wawasee suddenly found itself with a quality chance and buried it, Chloe Linder gathering the ball and resending a rocket back at Finley Hobbs, would couldn’t slow the shot for a 1-0 Warrior lead.
Wawasee’s tenuous lead remained for another 20 minutes of the second half, but the game opened up a little bit as both squads put shots on target. Another careless handling of the ball in the LCA defensive third, however, allowed Wawasee to set up its second strike, Morgan Reel sending a shot into the six to bang around in the defensive coverage. As the ball scooted on the firm turf, Hobbs couldn’t fall on it fast enough as Reel tapped it home to notch the tally.
Reel, who also golfed in Wawasee’s contest at Stonehenge earlier in the evening, potted her second goal of the night in the 70th minute after taking control of the ball 10 yards out and leaving no doubt on her service as the Warriors put themselves out of reach.
“It feels really nice to see the team come along like this,” Camargo said. “We knew we had a good chance to get a win at home, and seeing them play like that, building up chances and passes, it’s good. It’s been a lot of work to get them to switch mentalities from just kicking the ball to a team that likes to play and pass the ball with intention. That’s the team we like to become. Really nice to see that today.”
Wawasee, which was shut out in five of its first six matches of the season, dialed up 15 shots against Finley and a young LCA defense, 12 of those chances needing the keeper’s attention. Finley finished with nine saves, three of which came on shots Finley would push away in spectacular fashion.
“She is quality, and I thought that of her as a freshman and as an eighth grader,” said Lakeland Christian Academy head coach Nat Raber of Hobbs, now a junior. “I’m very glad she’s on our team. That gives us a huge advantage for us on the back end. Especially with all the young kids we have on the back line, we have a player who can make saves one on one if needed. We saw that against Bethany Christian, she made some unbelievable stops.”
Lillian Beer worked 74 minutes in net and Josalyn Kolberg closed out the final six to keep the clean sheet for the Warriors (1-5-1). LCA took just four shots, Beer saving two of them. The defensive work by McKenzie Long on LCA stud Jessi Calizo was noted, holding the scoring dynamo to just two shots, neither of which were on target.
“We were expecting her to get a lot of touches, we knew her from last year,” Camargo said of recognizing Calizo on the pitch. “I told Kenzie she needed to stop her by not letting her turn. She did that. She was all over the field keeping an eye on her, not letting her take the ball and find space. Chloe Linder also did a good job overlapping with Kenzie to give us some freedom in the offense as well.”
Added Raber on his young squad, which falls to 1-2 on the season after the loss, “We had good passing, good control of the ball, we just didn’t play well in that last third. Having a small bench and missing a starter, we wore out a lot there in the second half. We still need to address some things with the freshmen we have, but I saw some good things we can take from tonight.”