ARGOS — For the second straight Saturday, the Argos girls’ soccer team had a quick start, and the result was a 2-1 win over Westview for an IHSAA Regional title.
Kennedy Binkley’s pass found Courtney Dunlap and the freshman striker hit her 18th goal of the season less than two minutes in. Forty seconds later, senior midfielder Shelby Sanders took the host’s first corner kick and watched the ball curl directly into the goal. Three minutes into the match, Argos was up 2-0.
Last weekend, the Dragons scored three goals in the first seven minutes, en route to a 5-3 sectional championship over LaVille. The Lancers, ranked 18th in Class A, and Westview ranked 15th, had both beaten the No. 19 Dragons earlier in the year — a fact not lost on Argos coach Jon Alcorn. “They say it’s tough to beat a team twice, so I thought that was in our favor. The kids knew that not many people thought we’d be here, and that’s understandable. But we’ve persisted in our passing game, adjusted the defense, and finally began to finish shots. We created shots all year, but completing them has been the difference.”
After the stunning start, the Warriors recovered and began to supply pressure of their own. Westview Coach Jon Jantzi said, “This has been our Achilles heel — starting slow. We knew what Argos would do. I hate to be giving this same speech this late in the year, but it’s there. At the start of the season, this team wouldn’t have been able to recover. But after the Plymouth loss (2-1), they decided that was a game we should have won, and really since then, they’ve shown heart and don’t quit. We began to pressure the ball much better, and, if not for that missed PK, this game would’ve been much different.”
With five minutes left in the first half, a rebound careened directly out from the goal. A Dragon defender and a Warrior attacker made runs to win the ball. After a collision, the official pointed immediately to the penalty spot. Forward Tori Oesch set the ball and blasted a shot to her right, only to see the ball rebound hard off the post. The Dragons held their 2-0 advantage into the break.
In the second half, the Dragons came out determined to hold the center midfield, forcing Westview to attack wide, and while the Warriors outshot the home team eight shots on goal to one, most were long distance snipes handled easily by keeper Jenni Fishburn. Dunlap had one more strike on a free kick from 30 yards. The laser shot hit the cross bar and went down hard, but right into the hands of Westview keeper Grace St. Clair. The freshman striker turned an ankle a few minutes later and spent the last 30 minutes on the bench with an ice pack.
Westview closed the gap when Erika Gamble collected a rebound and hit a shot to the left upper 90, but with only 22 seconds on the clock. The Dragons sent the kick off long and wide, and held on to the win.
Alcorn said, “I’m really proud of this team. Moving Lillie Kozuch to sweeper and adding Bailey Nifong to the defensive wing made a huge difference. But there are so many pieces that have nothing to do with coaching. Our junior class is a great example. Jenni (Fishburn) came into the keeper spot with very little varsity experience after we graduated a four-year starter in Karlee VanDerWeele who is playing in college. Megan Ditmire has been a huge factor, especially defensively in the midfield, and it’s because she did extra workouts on her own. She has really set the example for her teammates. Katie Williams has 13 goals after having only three her first two years. Abby Stauffer has been a rock on defense. Haley Kepler, usually coming off the bench, can play mid or back and has become a tenacious defender on the ball. Each one adds something to make us successful.”
The Warriors finish the season at 15-5, and won their first outright Northern Indiana Soccer Conference title at 5-0. Jantzi said, “I told the girls to leave with their heads high. It’s tough enough to win at Argos, much less beat them twice, but no one can take away what they accomplished this year.”
Argos, now 13-6-1, moves on to play the 10 a.m. game Saturday, Oct. 26, at the Argos Semistate.
• ARGOS 2, WESTVIEW 1
A — Courtney Dunlap (Kennedy Binkley) 2nd minute
A — Shelby Sanders (unassisted) 3rd minute
W — Erika Gamble (unassisted) 80th minute
Shots on Goal: Argos 5, Westview 11
Saves: Argos 4 (Jenni Fishburn), Westview 9 (Grace St. Clair)
Corners: Argos 5, Westview 7
Records: Argos 13-6-1, Westview 15-5