DUBOIS — Washington Catholic kept its collective head above water in sloppy conditions in a 4-1 win over Northeast Dubois at the Class A Northeast Dubois soccer sectional Monday.
The Cardinals had to survive against cold and the rain, not to mention a flooded field in the first half, to beat the host Jeeps and advance to Wednesday’s championship.
The game was a tale of two halves mainly because the field at Northeast Dubois could be split down the center line. One half was fast, allowing the Cardinals to play their normal attacking style. The other half was a sloppy mess, caused by the rain throughout Monday, which slowed both teams to a crawl.
“It was a muddy mess out there,” Washington Catholic coach Wayne Neace said.
For the first half, the Class A No. 8 Cardinals were in the slop, trying to hydroplane themselves towards the Jeeps. Cardinal striker Colton Reed, with offensive mates Brantly Smith and Blaine Fuhs, had trouble finding their timing all throughout the first half. The first real chance for Washington Catholic came in the seventh minute, when a Smith shot found a waiting Reed on the rebound. The senior slipped, causing a miss and a goal kick.
Reed, clearly frustrated throughout the first half, would not find the goal until the 21st minute, when a save by senior keeper Steven Holland set off the counterattack from Smith to Reed on the break. Reed found the net for a 1-0 early lead.
The Jeeps, who have been stymied by the Cardinals three times in the past two seasons, were determined not to end up victim for a fourth time when they tied the game late in the first half. Dubois’ Kai Schwalfenberg found a run on Holland and the two dived for a challenge. The resulting splash left the two confused, but the ball crossed the line for the equalizer.
“We thought we could break it open in the second half when we had firmer ground,” Neace said. “We were pretty aggressive. We had a lot of offsides called on us today, but they seemed to pull it together.”
For the second half, the two switched sides and the Cardinals had the dry pitch. The offense returned as Reed, Smith and Fuhs were finding opportunities from the outset. Four minutes in, Reed hit a shot that was bound for the Jeeps’ goal but stopped in the mud just short of the goal line. Before Smith could knock in the rebound, Dubois’ Joe Gress knocked the ball out for a corner kick.
Nine minutes later, at the 13th minute, the Cardinals would take the lead for good. Brody Wilson hit a booming shot from the top of the penalty box for the goal. It was set up off a rebound by Reed. Reed would find the goal again in the 27th minute off a rebound from a Smith shot.
While the Cardinals’ trio were attacking, the Jeeps found few opportunities in the WC back half. Stout defense from senior Christian Neace, combined with good plays from sophomore Brandon Strange and freshman Zack Taylor kept Northeast Dubois wanting.
Neace had good things to say about his defense led by TJ Hill and Nick Boyd.
“It was great to see them step up because we were playing a freshman and two sophomores,” Neace said.
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