SYRACUSE — The drought is finally over.
Blake Milliser scored twice for Plymouth, and the Rockies broke into the Northern Lakes Conference win column in their penultimate conference contest with a 3-1 comeback win at Wawasee Thursday.
The victory snaps a winless streak stretching all the way back to the Blueberry Tournament.
“This was a big win,” said Plymouth Head Boys Soccer Coach Josh Martin. “Not only was it the number one win in the NLC, but it broke that winless streak that we’ve had since the Labor Day tournament, which was a pretty long dry spell for us. It was a big win, and even more important than the win itself we’ve been talking about the ability to bounce back, and we showed that tonight. We went down first, and, like a lot of teams have done to us, we found our way back into the game, and we scored some goals in bunches.”
Wawasee took the initial lead on a Jordan Acton goal in the 35th minute, and the Rockies remained down 1-0 until they were able to score three goals within a four-minute span between the 71st and 75th minute.
But Evan Glaub found Milliser for his first score of the night in the 71st, Jordan Popi netted the go-ahead goal in the 74th, and Glaub assisted another Milliser goal in the 75th minute to bring the score to its final margin.
“In the first half we played with a little bit of a little less traditional lineup because we’ve got some kids that are unable to play on Saturday because of some conflicts because we weren’t expecting to play on Saturday,” said Martin. “So we decided to get some kids a little extra time that are going to be playing on Saturday. We finally brought Popi, Brandon Baird, Charlie Brown in probably about the 60th minute so that kind of brought some fresh legs in. We ended up snatching up a big lions’ share of the possession, and two, maybe even all three of those goals happened off or after set pieces. We pushed a lot of numbers forward and they pushed a lot of numbers back so they didn’t have anybody to outlet to so we had 10 guys spraying their box… and they couldn’t break that pressure from us.”
Milliser, a sophomore utility player who has manned the backfield and the midfield for Plymouth, nearly notched a hat trick on a shot that caromed off the frame.
“He’s the kind of kid that we’ve played him in the back a lot, we’ve pushed him up in the midfield as well because we like the way he passes… and he was in the box and got a good stroke on the ball a couple times, and he made the best on those opportunities. It was a surprise, but it wasn’t because as a coach I know he’s pretty technically sound,” Martin said.
Plymouth moves to 5-8-3 overall and 1-5-0 in the NLC with Thursday’s win. The Rockies have a shot at another conference victory as they travel to NorthWood Saturday for a make-up contest after a rain-out Tuesday. After that its on to the first-ever two-class IHSAA state tournament as Plymouth plays Culver Military Academy Monday at 6 p.m.
“We’re in a tough bind with that NorthWood game going forward because of the way our sectional has been restructured,” Martin said. “We’ve got to make some choices as coaches. Do we commit a lot of energy and resources toward winning the NorthWood game, or do we give some of the kids who don’t as much time some time and save some of our energy for Monday against CMA? Our coaching staff is still trying to work through that, and all we can do is kind of see what is happening in the first half at NorthWood and make our decisions from there because obviously we’d like to get a second win in the NLC but more importantly is being prepared to try and get a victory over CMA on Monday to keep our season hopes going.”
• PLYMOUTH 3, WAWASEE 1
Wawasee — Jordan Acton (Westin W.), 35th minute
Plymouth — Blake Milliser (Evan Glaub), 71st minute
Plymouth — Jordan Popi, 74th minute
Plymouth — Milliser (Glaub), 75th minute
Shots on goal: Plymouth 9, Wawasee 4
Saves: Plymouth 3 ( Ben Shortt 2, Charlie Brown 1), Wawasee 6
Corners: Plymouth 8, Wawasee 5
Record: Plymouth 5-8-3 (1-5-0 NLC)
JV score: Plymouth 8, Wawasee 1