TROJAN BOYS' SOCCER: Trojan boys’ soccer falls to MarshallWORTHINGTON – For the first 60 minutes of Thursday’s South Central Conference match at Trojan Field, the Worthington Trojan boys’ soccer team was in complete control over the Marshall Tigers.
By: Lance Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON – For the first 60 minutes of Thursday’s South Central Conference match at Trojan Field, the Worthington Trojan boys’ soccer team was in complete control over the Marshall Tigers.
The Trojans built a 2-0 lead by halftime and continued to dictate the pace well into the second half.
That all changed shortly after the 20-minute mark of the second half when the game’s first red card was issued, forcing WHS to play down a player.
MHS used that advantage to rally and score three unanswered goals in the game’s final 20 minutes to avenge an earlier loss to the Trojans (3-1 in Marshall on Sept. 4), claiming a hard-fought 3-2 victory.
While it was WHS that had a player sent off first, it was the Tigers who had a pair of players sent off with red cards in the game’s final 11 minutes to finish down a player.
“It was the wildest game that I’ve ever been a part of in all my 11 years of coaching,” Tigers’ head coach Pat Johnson said. “It was just crazy. They got a penalty kick in the first half and we got one in the second half. We knew we could come back, but it’s always difficult when the referees are such a big factor in the game. That’s too bad because you want the players to be the ones who impact the outcome of the game.”
In fact, the officials issued five yellow cards and four red cards in the contest, including a red card to WHS head coach Smitty Eknitphong, who voiced his displeasure to the officials on a hard challenge on Trojan keeper Kody Honius that led to the Tigers game-tying goal.
“To play a game of soccer with a tough opponent and then on top of that, you’ve got the reffing squad,” WHS assistant coach Javier Jimenez said “You can’t blame it completely on the refs, but what do you do? It was an odd game to say the least.
“The officials lost control of the game in the first half and they never regained it. There were some elbows out there in the first half that they never called and then in the second half, they just started flipping them.”
Jose Alfredo Castillo, a freshman Trojan striker, received the first booking of the game three minutes into the contest on a hard challenge, but eventually his aggressive effort paid off as he found the back of the netting from 10 yards out on a nice pass from Jesus Ordaz to give WHS a 1-0 lead 12 minutes into the contest.
The Trojans stayed on the offensive for much of the first half with any Tiger advances being turned away on clearance kicks from WHS defenders Mu Lar Taw and Ramiro Fernandez.
WHS eventually turned its pressure into a two-goal cushion in the 32nd minute when Randy Lopez drew a foul in the box to earn a penalty kick.
Lopez used a quick kick with his left foot to beat the Tiger keeper into the left side of the goal to give WHS a 2-0 lead and room to work with.
With the advantage, the Trojans continue to look for further separation from the Tigers and continued to pressure the goal.
Trailing by two goals, MHS started to show some frustration late in the first half and three Tigers earned bookings with yellow cards in the final six minutes of the half.
Following the intermission, the Trojans continued to maintain possession of the ball and earned several corner kicks, but were unable to extend the lead further.
The action tilted in favor of the Tigers shortly after the 20-minute mark when Castillo was issued his second yellow card and was sent off following a hard challenge.
That penalty forced WHS to play down a player and proved to be costly four minutes later when MHS opened up its scoring.
The Tigers, which had been stifled offensively and were relegated to sending long clearance kicks ahead in hopes of outracing the Trojans on potential breakaways, got the ball to striker Trevor Johnson, who manage to draw a foul in the box to earn a penalty kick.
Johnson used a strong kick with his right foot to beat Honius on his right side to draw the visitors within a goal with 15:11 left in the contest.
With the momentum on its side and WHS playing down a player, MHS continued to be more forceful on the attack and tied the contest four minutes later when Johnson got on a break with a pass ahead from Isac Evenson for a 1-on-1 shot at the Trojan keeper.
As Johnson closed in on the WHS box, Honius stepped out to challenge the play and did break it up temporarily, but the WHS keeper wasn’t able to cover the ball up and Johnson secured the ball for a tap in into the Trojan goal for the equalizer with 11:35 to play.
Honius was slow to get up following the play and the Trojan coaches were not pleased with the ruling on the pitch, which resulted in Eknitphong’s booking.
“It was a hard challenge against the goal,” Jimenez said. “The goalie is protected inside his box and the ref should’ve seen it but they didn’t. They can only call what they see and they didn’t get that one, so we’re pretty upset they didn’t call that one.”
Shortly after the equalizer, the Tigers were issued their first red card and both sides were even again.
However, whatever wind was left in the Trojans’ sails was gone and the Tigers came away with the game-winner when Trevor Johnson sent a cross into the box off a free kick that Ethan Hart knocked into the WHS goal for a 3-2 lead with 9:08 left.
The Trojans managed to get a couple of chances at their own equalizer as the game wound down and even gained a player advantage when the Tigers had a second player booked with a red card with five minutes left. But WHS never managed to break through and MHS closed out the game by clearing the ball down the pitch several times.
“Our players played their hearts out, we got a couple of bounces to get some goals there and our goalie was good enough at the end,” Coach Johnson said. “I’ve never played two guys down before – that’s crazy. I’m just thankful that my captains provided some leadership at the end and we got some late scores.
“We’re thrilled to win. We knew these guys are a good team and they are well-coached. The game got a little physical and the referees had a hard time getting it under control. That’s disappointing, but I tip my hat to the Worthington kids. They are good, solid players. Our players were able to dig deep and get a couple of bounces at the end. We’re thankful for the opportunity to win it.”
The Tigers improve to 3-8 overall and 2-3 in the conference. MHS hosts New Ulm Monday.
The loss, which drops the Trojans to 5-5 overall and 2-3 in the conference, is disappointing for a squad that had won two of its previous three and controlled the action for much of the contest.
“We lost our concentration,” Jimenez said. “After the bad calls, we lost that concentration and the game went downhill for us. Marshall outplayed us. They are a good opponent and they just simply outplayed us at the end.”
WHS looks to put Thursday’s effort behind it Tuesday when the Trojans host Southwest Christian.
MHS 0 3 – 3
WHS 2 0 – 2