The towns of Washington and Jasper have a rivalry which spans multiple sports, but Thursday night a boys’ soccer conference championship was at stake.
Jasper (13-1-1, 6-0 Big 8) defeated Washington (11-4-1, 5-1) to win the Big 8 conference championship at the Sports Complex.
Coming out of halftime tied at zero, Jasper came out with a fierce offensive attack, and that attack intensified when Washington suffered a crucial injury. Only four minutes into play in the second half, Hatchet junior defender Luke Raymond went down with an apparent left leg injury and he had to be carried off the field. Washington coach Quintin Myers said Raymond was headed to the hospital for an x-ray after the game to get more information on the extent of the injury.
“It’s going to bother the team when one of their brothers goes down, but they battled,” Myers said. “Logan (Ward) came in and we had to move Nicholas (White) to the back and that throws off our midfield, because Nicholas (White) is very aggressive in the midfield by winning balls and that hurt us. When you take your left back out and both goals came from the left side it affected us big time.”
Five minutes later Jasper senior Caleb Williams shot a cross towards the goal from the right corner and senior Nathan Helsley deflected the ball past Washington senior goaltender Brooks Brown for the first goal of the night.
“They got the ball in the corner and we didn’t clear the ball — Tony (Serrano) went slipped and went down, (Austin) Ghirardelli slid over but he didn’t get there in time and they sent a cross in,” Myers said. “They had three guys waiting on it. We would have liked Brooks (Brown) to come out and snag it in the air, but he felt more comfortable sitting on his line and waiting for the shot, and the it went off his (Helsley) chest and went straight in.”
Eight minutes later, Christopher Menjivar put a shot past Brown at the front right corner of the goal to put the Wildcats up 2-0 with 22 minutes to play in regulation.
“It was another missed clearance out of the back,” Myers said. “It happened at Canterbury, and one mistake can hurt us. Tonight we had two and it was eight minutes of the game and they punished us on those two.”
Both teams came out firing in the first half. Despite zero goals being scored in the first 40 minutes there were plenty of chances on both sides. Jasper’s best opportunity came on a point blank shot from junior midfielder Gustav Brodin midway through the first half, but Brown turned the shot away moments before an offsides penalty was called against the Wildcats. On the Hatchets side, sophomore Nicholas White had an opportunity six yards out, but the Jasper defense deflected the ball to junior Francisco Rodriguez, but he couldn’t get a shot off.
Washington has one game left Thursday against Evansville Harrison on Senior Night. The Hatchets need to end the regular season on a strong note after losing their last three games.
“Tomorrow we’re going to watch film and look at some things that we can improve on and check on the mistakes we had in the back and how we can improve those,” Myers said. “We’ll give them Saturday off so we can heal up, we have a lot of bangs and bruises from the weekend and start Monday fresh. Attitudes are still high, of course they’re upset, this is a big loss for us, but I’m confident we can learn from these games. You don’t get better without playing the best.”