LAKEVILLE — For most of 80 minutes, the Argos boys soccer team played with the number two team in the state.
Unfortunately for the Dragons, a pair of mistakes wound up costing them a pair of goals, and the Argos offense couldn’t quite find the counter to Fort Wayne Bishop Luers in a season-ending 2-0 loss to the Knights at the Class A LaVille Semistate Saturday in Newton Park.
The two teams remained locked in a scoreless stalemate until Luers finally broke through in the 55th minute. The Knights notched an insurance goal less than nine minutes later, and that was all the scoring they would need as they closed out the Dragons’ season with a 2-0 semifinal victory.
Luers ultimately fell to No. 1-ranked Guerin Catholic in a nip-tuck 2-1 overtime game that may prove to be the de facto state championship in Saturday’s semistate title match night in Newton Park.
“I thought we played very well in the first half. We came out and were doing some good things in the second half and then we made a mistake and they scored, and we made another mistake,” said Argos boys soccer coach Todd VanDerWeele. “Big games come down to who makes the fewer mistakes, and the mistakes we made cost us today.”
After Vincent Stone’s shot in the 49th minute caromed off the right Luers goal post, the Knights got on the board in the 55th minute when Dylan Hoya’s through ball found Ben Oberley in the Argos box, and he two-touched a low drive into the far corner of the Dragons’ net to leave Argos trailing 1-0.
After a back-and-forth possession battle over the next eight minutes, Hoya scored his own goal in a 1 v 1 situation, chipping a left-footed shot from in close into the back of the net to push Luers out to a 2-0 cushion.
“At 1-0 we were still in it. The second goal, we were trying to push up a little bit more, and they get the counter on us,” said VanDerWeele. “Some things that led into that first goal were the stabbing and committing and diving in too hard and letting them get around us and that was something we did all game and it ultimately cost us on both goals.”
Argos’ usually prolific offense never quite got going Saturday with just four shots on goal to Luers’ 14. Tylor Peters made eight saves in goal, and Josiah Osborn managed another defensive save on Luers’ second shot on target in the game’s seventh minute. Jorge Barron finished with two saves in the Knights’ net for the blank sheet.
Luers locked down Argos striker Damon Binkley, who entered Saturday’s semistate semifinal with a school-record 43 goals to his credit this season but was unable to register a single shot on goal at Newton Park.
“They were crowding him out, and we weren’t able to get him space,” VanDerWeele said of his junior forward. “He was not moving as well as he usually does, and we just couldn’t get going. I thought we did move the ball better after the first 20 minutes of the game, it just wasn’t our day.”
One potential game-changer came in the 68th minute when Argos senior mid Dominic Cataldo was hit from behind and fell just inside the Luers 18-yard box. Binkley set up for a penalty kick, but after some discussion between officials, the foul was ruled outside of the box, and the Dragons had to settle for a free kick instead. Argos was unable to do anything with the set piece, and the Dragons never put a shot on frame again in the season-ending loss.
“It was a chance, but the game’s 80 minutes long and there are plays throughout the game and we just didn’t make enough of them,” VanDerWeele said. “You could say that’s a regret, but there were other situations we just didn’t get enough out of so I don’t think that had anything to do with the outcome. That would’ve been a game-breaker, but we could’ve made plays at other times too.”
The Dragons close at a creditable 18-4 with their third straight regional title in the 50th year of Argos soccer.
The team must now say goodbye to a deep senior class of 10 in Joseph Stone, Taylor Ogle, Sean Mullaney, Cataldo, Spencer Beam, Maxi Bailey, Brian Snyder, Derrick Jensen, Jerry Lee and Casey Johnson.
“We’ve got a lot of them. They’ve been very loyal, hard-working and done nothing the last four years but try to improve and make everyone improve,” VanDerWeele said. “They believe in the team concept and they’re going to be greatly missed. Hopefully some of that’s worn off on the younger kids, and I’m sure it has. I’ve got some talented kids coming back, but it’s tough losing a group like that that’s been an integral part of all three runs.”
• FORT WAYNE LUERS 2,
At LaVille Semistate
Luers — Ben Oberly (Dylan Hoya), 55th minute
Luers — Hoya (Logan West), 64th minute
Shots on goal: Luers 14, Argos 4
Goalie saves: Luers 2 (Jorge Barron), Argos 8 (Tylor Peters)
Corner kicks: Luers 9, Argos 3
Fouls: Luers 12, Argos 8
Records: Luers 18-3, Argos 18-4 (final).