By: Seth Kinker, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Manchester Flying Dutchmen boy’s soccer team fell to the No. 5 ranked Lenawee Christian Cougars on Sept. 17, 4-3.
A rivalry has formed between these two teams that usually win their side of the Independent Soccer League (ISL), the Dutchmen play in the West and the Cougars play in the East. Last season the Dutchmen won 3-2, taking the lead late in the second half and holding on for the win.
On Sept. 17 the Dutchmen had opportunities early, junior Jake Rowader sent a cross into the box three minutes into the game to sophomore Adam Pringle who had made a run back post and was unmarked. Pringle got a shot off, but it went just wide to the left.
The Dutchmen held possession early but gave the Cougars a penalty kick after taking down a player in the box seven minutes into the game. Cougar junior forward Zach Riordan slotted the ball into the goal to give the Cougars the 1-0 lead.
Both teams would trade getting good looks after that, but no goals came through. The Cougars began to win possession after the penalty kick, using the momentum from that goal.
The Dutchmen looked to play behind the ball as they have all season, winning possession first or looking to counter-attack quickly. Senior Lenin Fierro, senior Devon Kelly, and Pringle applied pressure throughout the first half and were able to link passes together to get some good chances on goal.
Dutchmen senior goalkeeper Brayden Hayes kept the score much closer than it could have been in the first half, sliding to make saves or deflect the ball multiple times after the Cougars gained momentum.
Since Dutchmen head coach Travis Baker has taken the reigns of the program, the Dutchmen have trailed the Cougars at halftime 1-0 for the past few years, so it wasn’t an unusual situation for them.
In the second half, however, the Cougars were able to score two more goals to take a 3-0 lead.
At this point, the Dutchmen made the decision to start putting more numbers forward, and with around fifteen minutes remaining the decision paid off. Fierro (2) and senior midfielder River Spitler scored within a few minutes of each other to tie the game at three.
Baker made the decision to continue playing aggressive, looking to ride the momentum and take three points in the standings with a potential game-winning goal.
Instead, the Cougars were able to score with just over a minute left, putting home a rebound that took a deflection to take the contest 4-3.
Baker wasn’t disappointed with the outcome and told the team after the game that it was his decision to keep pressing, feeling they had the momentum and would rather play for a win than settle for a tie.
“I just liked our chances to get another one there,” said Baker on playing more aggressive at the end. After the game, he spoke about the demeanor of the team. “We weren’t down, obviously upset we didn’t get the win but not deterred in any way.”
The district draws also took place Sept. 18 with the Dutchmen drawing the Cougars again in the first round. The winner advances to play the winner of Hillsdale Academy to get to the finals. On the other side of the bracket, Jackson Christian plays Clinton and the winner of that game takes on Will-Carleton Academy in the semi-finals.
Districts take place Oct. 15, 17, and 19 this year.