ARGOS — The Argos girls soccer team has shown flashes of brilliance this season and has disappointed at others. That should perhaps be expected of a team with just four returning starters, but the test doesn’t get any bigger than taking on the defending state champs.
The young Dragons showed plenty of spark while fighting to a 0-0 draw against Mishawaka Marian Monday in what head coach Jon Alcorn called Argos’ best result of the year.
The Knights, 2011 Runner-Up and 2012 Class A State Champion, moved to Class 2A due to the IHSAA Success Factor. They’ve proven capable in the top level, garnering the highest ranking in the area at No. 14.
“We took some lessons from last year,” Alcorn said. “They jumped on us 5-0, before we recovered a bit in a 5-1 loss. We changed our formation to go with more speed in the back and five midfielders. We knew they would be faster than us all over the field, and that we had to blunt that speed on the wings and then try to possess out of the back.”
Marian’s luck was poor in the opening half, as the visitors hit the cross bar twice, but Jenni Fisburn collected all five Marian shots on goal to preserve the clean sheet. The Dragon defense stiffened a bit in the second half — no more balls off the frame — and the junior keeper collected five more saves to finish with a shutout.
“We started to lose shape toward the end of the first half,” said Alcorn. “Our defense was losing their tight marking outside the penalty area. It’s probably a good thing we play 40 minutes halves instead of the college 45 minutes. At the break we re-emphasized stepping up and marking tight, looking for chances to deny the ball to their targets, and then playing it out to feet instead of clearing it. We had to play within our formation and our abilities.”
Perhaps the best chance for the Dragons came with 15 minutes to go, as the Dragons freshman striker Courtney Dunlap slipped a ball into the box where Megan Ditmire just missed collecting the ball for a lay-in to the near post.
“Our kids started the second half with a passing sequence that involved six players. It showed they are understanding the strength of this team and what it takes to compete at a high level,” said Alcorn. “Shelby Sanders and Kennedy Binkley, holding midfielders, and Abby Stauffer at stopper, really stepped up the pressure on the great target forwards Marian has. Then Lillie Kozuch, Bailey Nifong and Charlie Horn used smarts and speed to cover up the back. It was really a tremendous defensive effort that still provided quality scoring chances.”
The Dragons return to action Friday with a 6:30 p.m. Northern Indiana Soccer Conference game with Westview (8-2). Prior to kick-off the Dragons will celebrate senior night.
• ARGOS 0, MARIAN 0
Shots on Goal: Argos 2, Marian 10
Saves: Argos 10 (Jenni Fishburn), Marian 2 (Devin Smith)
Corners: Argos 3, Marian 6
Records: Argos 7-5-1