ARGOS — With forward Allison Flower visibly struggling with an injury to her right foot, Argos girls soccer coach Jon Alcorn pulled her off the field early in the first half.
The senior two-year starter begged her coach to put her back in. Alcorn conceded, and Flower made the most of the opportunity.
Flower’s header to the near post on a beautiful cross from Shelby Sanders on a free kick off the corner of the Wheeler box gave Argos the go-ahead in the 34th minute, and Lady Dragons put away two more goals for a 4-1 repeat regional championship over the visiting Bearcats at Eugene Snyder Field.
“At practice yesterday I got stepped on, and at school it was really bruised so he took me out, and I was begging him to put me back in,” said Flower. “I said ‘Just let me go in; if it hurts I’ll tell you.’ He let me back in, and they were yelling ‘Allison, header, header,’ and I just did it. It was really exciting.”
“She started, but I took her out maybe eight minutes in because her right foot was injured in practice this week. She wanted to go, but I could just tell she was using her left all the time,” said Alcorn.
“We’ve really been stressing you have routs you’re supposed to run, you’ve got to be in your spot and catching those balls. The corner kick came across, and Allie has a good header, and she put it in. I think the fact that she couldn’t use her right foot maybe made her want to hit with the head.”
Saturday’s regional championship was the second straight for the Lady Dragons, who lost eight starters from last year’s squad and struggled to put the pieces back together at the start of the year before gelling midway through the season. The Lady Dragons will play host to a four-team semistate field next Saturday when they take on Fort Wayne Bishop Luers following a 10 a.m. semifinal between Mishawaka Marian and West Lafayette.
Argos’ boys were in attendance to cheer on the Lady Dragons following their own repeat regional championship victory over Oak Hill earlier in the day.
“I think it’s amazing to have eight people graduate and bring in some new girls and for us to play well with them. It feels really good,” said Flower of the regional repeat.
“I think it’s kind of awesome. Our school in general is close so to have the boys and girls win again, it’s just like a big family, and it’s amazing,” said Argos striker Jami Patterson.
Patterson gave her team a fast start with a snipe from around 45 yards out just 44 seconds into the game. Intending to test Wheeler goalkeeper Kimberley Moskovich with a counter from the midfield, the 2011 All-State First Team selection admitted it surprised her when her long shot caromed off the crossbar and rolled down Moskovich’s back and into the goal to give the Dragons a 1-0 edge.
“Oh my gosh, it was crazy because it was the first shot, and I was just expecting to test the keeper. It went in, and I honestly wasn’t expecting it to go in,” she said. “It was just a one-touch, left-footed shot, and it just happened to sail right over the keeper. I think it was lucky, just being honest.”
Terra Phillips scored Wheeler its only goal in the 31st minute, and her equalizer on a bad clear in the Argos box knotted the score at 1-1.
Flower’s goal gave Argos back the advantage, and Patterson scored less than a minute later on another set piece on a Valerie Rospopo corner kick and a scrum in the Wheeler box to stretch Argos’ advantage to 3-1.
After surrendering a tying goal late in their sectional final with Boone Grove the previous weekend and watching Argos’ boys battle back from their own 3-1 deficit earlier in the day at the Caston Regional, the Lady Dragons anchored back into the midfield but kept the pressure on the Wheeler defense, and Megan Ditmire stretched the cushion to 4-1 with a long snipe from around 30 yards out in the 50th minute that ended up bringing the score to its final margin.
“The key thing was that we finished the ball when we needed to. The other thing that’s satisfying is that with Boone Grove, we give up a goal with 2:44 to go to tie it, and that’s a killer,” Alcorn said. “So to come back and score I think it’s on their mind that we can do this. They knew also that the boys in Caston were behind 3-1, but in the second half they scored four goals in nine minutes and came back. So they knew they could do that, and I think that they just have an attitude that we’re going to win.”
• ARGOS 4, WHEELER 1
At Argos Regional championship
A — Jami Patterson (unassisted), 1st minute
W — Terra Philips (unassisted), 31st minute
A — Allie Flower (Shelby Sanders), 34th minute
A — Patterson (Valerie Rospopo), 35th minute
A — Megan Ditmire (unassisted), 50th minute
Shots on Goal: Argos 7, Wheeler 6
Saves: Argos 5 (Karlee VanDerWeele), Wheeler 3 (Kimberley Moskovich)
Corners: Argos 6, Wheeler 4
Records: Argos 13-5-2, Wheeler 17-3