LAKEVILLE — For more than 70 minutes, Argos played with the No. 1 team in the state, but the Dragons fell short of handing Guerin Catholic its first loss in a 4-2 season-ending defeat at the LaVille Semistate Saturday morning.
The Dragons battled back from a 2-1 deficit with a Damon Binkley goal early in the second half, but when Tyler Vickery found the back of the net in the 71st minute, it took the wind out of Argos’ sails. Vickery scored again on a George Poppas assist in the 76th minute to complete a hat trick and give the top-ranked Golden Eagles some insurance, and the No. 16 Dragons closed out the year with a 4-2 loss at Newton Park.
“They’re a very good team,” said Argos boys soccer coach Todd Van Der Weele. “We had opportunities. We were obviously down at halftime and fought back in the first part of the second half. We had at least two more opportunities to go ahead and just couldn’t get it done. Then that third goal, I think that kind of crushed our spirit.
“As the second half went on I could tell it was just going to be one of those games where whoever scores the next goal wins, and they got it.”
Argos took the initial lead at the game when Damon Binkley tapped in a clean-up goal off a Zack Stockman shot and deflection by Guerin goalie Jay Kaskie in the 33rd minute.
But that lead didn’t last long as Tommy Hinkebein combined with Doug Kaskie on a cross from the corner to knot the game at 1-all in the 36th minute. Vickery scored his first goal on a header off a Kaskie service into the box to put Argos behind 2-1 with just 27 seconds remaining in the half.
The Dragons came out on the offensive after the break, however, and Binkley scored the equalizer just 29 ticks into the second half.
The two teams battled back and forth for the next 30 minutes, and Argos put itself in position to retake the lead several times — including a pair of Stockman shots in the 50th and 69th minutes — but couldn’t quite find the winning combination.
Vickery’s second goal in the 71st minute forced the Dragons to press the action late, and he scored again on a counter in the 76th minute.
Jordan O’Dell’s snip from midfield in the 79th minute sailed high, and Josiah Osborn’s shot outside the box went wide in the final minute as the buzzer sounded on Argos’ first defeat in 20 games.
Guerin went on to fall 2-0 to fifth-ranked defending semistate champion Fort Wayne Canterbury 2-0 in the final Saturday night.
“You go into halftime down 2-1 and… your season could be over in 40 minutes,” said Van Der Weele. “What are you going to do? I expected a response. Obviously I didn’t expect a response in 29 seconds or whatever it was. Hat’s off to my guys; we had chances. It obviously hurts, but we were there, we played with them. It just so happens they got the go-ahead goal, and we didn’t.”
The Dragons close the season at 19-2-1 after giving the program its first repeat regional championship since 1997-98 and its first Northern Indiana Soccer Conference since 1998.
The team bids goodbye to three key seniors in Stockman, O’Dell and goalie Jacob Mechling, who finished with three saves Saturday.
“Beyond our expectations how the season went. We still have some things we’ve got to work on obviously, but we made strides,” said Van Der Weele. “I lose Mechling, and I lose Jordan O’Dell and Zach Stockman, and that’s going to hurt, but we’ve got a lot of other kids that are coming up that can hopefully take their space to some degree. I think Argos is going to have a good little run brewing with the numbers that we’ve got coming up, and we just have to work and continue to get better.”
• GUERIN CATHOLIC 4, ARGOS 2
At LaVille Semistate
A — Damon Binkley, 33rd minute
GC — Doug Kaskie (Tommy Hinkebein), 36th minute
GC — Tyler Vickery (Kaskie), 40th minute
A — Binkley, 41st minute
GC — Vickery, 71st minute
GC — Vickery (George Poppas), 76th minute
Shots on goal: Argos 4, Guerin Catholic 7
Saves: Argos 3 (Jacob Mechling), Guerin 2 (Jay Kaskie)
Corners: Guerin Catholic 10, Argos 0
Records: Guerin 19-0-1, Argos 19-2-1 (final)