PERU — Familiar opponent, new stakes and a new venue. Different game, same result.
The last time that Argos played Faith Christian, the Dragons only needed one half to put their opponents away, 3-0, after lightning cut the game short at the intermission back on Aug. 30 at Argos. At Saturday’s Peru Regional championship, the two teams were locked in a scoreless tie through 66 minutes.
But Chandler Campbell broke through for an unassisted goal in the 67th minute, then struck again on a Vincent Stone assist less than a minute later, and Damon Binkley scored Argos its third goal on a Derrick Jensen assist in the 70th minute as the Dragons notched a trio of goals in a three-minute flurry and held on for the 3-0 win.
The final score may have been the same, but Argos head coach Todd VanDerWeele explained the difference between the first game and the regional rematch.
“The same result; the game obviously didn’t go anywhere close to the first one. Faith played an outstanding game. They were pressuring us — every time somebody got the ball, there were two or three guys on the ball. They took a lot of things away from us… We struggled for awhile and we were finally able to put one in, and we got a couple more right after that. Yeah it was the same score, but it was a whole different ball game,” said VanDerWeele.
“The last time we were able to spread them out and really work the ball, and we struggled to do that on the small field.”
After Binkley scored three goals to surpass his own single-season scoring record in Thursday’s Peru Regional opener with Oak Hill, Campbell gave his team a pair of goals Saturday, putting Argos on the board in the 67th minute and netting the insurance goal less than a minute later to give his team some breathing room in a game where the Dragons outshot their opponents 7-1 in shots on goal but struggled to find the back of the net until late.
“Chandler really gave us a good spark. The first goal, basically Vincent Stone came in and he and the keeper collided and there were a couple defenders around the ball and it was bouncing away. Everyone stopped to watch the ball except Chandler. It was an open net, but there were bodies all over, and he was able to hammer it right through everyone and get it right in the goal,” VanDerWeele said.
“That’s the kind of thing that Chandler has given us all year; comes off and gives us a lot of hustle, a lot of effort — he’s very smart and reads the game well, and that’s one thing he can usually do for us.”
Saturday’s win represented the third straight regional championship for Argos, an accomplishment made all the more special by the fact that the Dragons are celebrating their 50th anniversary as the oldest public school with a soccer program in the state.
“I’m really proud of the boys. Like I told you after sectionals, none of it’s been easy,” said VanDerWeele. “The boys continue to work hard, and they continue that hunger to try to advance in the state tournament. My hat’s off to them because it would have been really easy to be content after one and then just kind of go through the motions, but they don’t — they continue to work hard and strive to get bigger and better results.”
The Dragons now advance to play No. 2-rated Fort Wayne Bishop Luers at 10 a.m. at the LaVille Semistate Saturday at Newton Park. No. 1 Guerin Catholic plays Andrean in the late semifinal with the championship slated for 7 p.m.
With such a talented field, VanDerWeele still feels good about his team’s chances.
“We’re definitely the underdog if you go by the poll,” the Argos skipper said. “I think this year more than the last two and nobody gets hurt that we have every chance of winning one or both games on Saturday.”
• ARGOS 3, FAITH CHRISTIAN 0
At Peru Regional championship
A — Chandler Campbell, 67th minute
A — Campbell (Vincent Stone), 68th minute
A — Damon Binkley (Derrick Jensen), 70th minute
Shots on goal: Argos 7, Faith Christian 1
Goalie saves: Argos 1 (Tylor Peters), Faith Christian 4 (Will Gephart)
Corner kicks: Argos 10, Faith Christian 3