WARSAW — Culver Military Academy’s plan was to score early and use some quick attacking to overwhelm the Rockies.
That’s just what the Eagles did as they handed Plymouth a season-ending 2-0 loss in the opener at the Class 2A Warsaw Boys Soccer Sectional Monday.
“We just tried to see if we could score something early and then hold,” said CMA head coach Jim Brugh. “Eighteen minutes in we scored a goal and that helped us. Our game plan was just to play our game, which is basically a ball control game and to try to attack as fast as we could with as few touches on the ball as we could. Not to sit on it and dribble, dribble, dribble because when you do that against the Rockies they swarm you and you end up coughing it up. We’re very, very lucky to get out of here with a win.”
“They have a lot of speed, and we struggled to keep up with their speed,” said Plymouth coach Josh Martin. “We started the game with (Kyle) Vanlue and (Daniel) Smith up top hoping that we could get in behind, but even their defense was super speedy. We really struggled to get in behind them. They did a good job to protect the the goal save space behind them and Ryan Sete made a couple of nice saves. We hit the post a couple of times when we got in the box. We’ve really been working on whipping balls across the 6-yard line of the box, and most of them were too high, hand high for the keepers, so that made it kind of tough on us.”
After several wide shots by both teams, CMA took the early lead in the 18th minute when a through ball by Luther Jacobs on a free kick caromed off a Plymouth defender and over the end line to give the Eagles a corner kick, and Jacobs fired a perfect pass into the box to Tanner Grant, who headed the ball just over Rockies goalkeeper Erik Aguilar as he scrambled to return to the goalmouth to give CMA a 1-0 lead.
“That was a well-headed ball,” said Martin. “It was kind of floating over high and in the right spot and not too many keepers are going to be able to get back and get that ball. It was a well-headed ball, but it was kind of a shame on us. We had a set piece back there that we defended and instead of getting it out of bounds for a throw-in, it ended up a corner. We always talk about not giving up set pieces around the box. You give up X amount of those, and quality teams are going to cash in on those.”
CMA added another goal early in the second half as Luther drove a close shot at the near post on a Fernando Perez cross into the box in the 45th minute, leaving the Rockies chasing from two goals down.
“It’s nice to go up 2-0 obviously, but 2-0 is not enough against these guys because they have that long throw,” said Brugh. “Every time they’d throw the ball in from their offensive third of the field it’s like a corner kick because (Micah Harner) and (Blake Milliser) have really exceptional long throws. They’re a scrappy team, and they were laying it on us there toward the end of that second half.”
Plymouth pressed for several opportunities late in the game and tallied four of their six shots on goal after Jacobs’ insurance goal. The Rockies outshot CMA 6-5 as both Plymouth goalie Erik Aguilar and CMA goalie Ryan Sete finished with five saves in the contest.
“It was tough because then you’ve got to chase even more and that opened the game up for Jacobs and some of their guys,” Martin said. “I’m proud of our guys. They played 80 minutes of soccer; they pushed. We kept trying to get into their box. They dropped back and kept three guys up top to counterattack. They had seven or eight guys back framing or bunkering in their box, and that made it hard. I don’t think we were super technical tonight; a lot of passes going from white to maroon and so when we got into some of the danger areas we lost some of those opportunities with that last pass in the final third of the field.”
The Eagles improve to 11-4-2 with Monday’s win and move on to a sectional semifinal Wednesday at 7 p.m. against the host Tigers, ranked No. 5 in the Indiana Soccer Coaches Association’s final 2A poll after a state final four appearance last year.
“I’ve never seen Warsaw play, this year, last year or the year before,” Brugh said. “I have no idea what to expect. I know Scott Bauer is the coach; I know him pretty well so I know kind of what he’s going to have in store for us. We’re going to try to focus on quick change of direction, change of point of attack as fast as we can and see if we can catch them sinking in towards the middle and see if we can get something in the back side.”
Plymouth closes out a difficult season at 5-9-4 and bids goodbye to a total of 12 seniors in forwards Smith, Andrew Youst, Armando Diaz and Aaram Kamali, midfielders Brandon Baird, Evan Glaub, Oscar Aguilar, Maynor Galeano and Michael Yoder and defenders Harner and Ben Shortt, as well as goalie Charlie Brown.
“I’m really pleased with this group of kids,” said Martin. “We had some rough times. Twelve seniors that are going to be missed next season. We’ve got a good core of juniors, some sophomores that have some good time for us, and we’ve got some JV kids that we’ve got our eye on. Thankfully Erik Aguillar is coming back for us next year in the goal so we won’t have to start from ground zero with the goalkeeping. Vanlue will be back and some of those guys, but we’re going to miss Harner and Baird, Dan Smith’s speed up top. Yoder and Youst, whether they were playing out wide or up top, they always gave us some really good minutes… Oscar Aguilar, another one of those guys that’s going to be missed for us. Aaron Kamali would come in and give us some great minutes when we needed him. This group’s going to be missed. They went out with their heads held high. A 2-0 score wasn’t what we were looking for, but as I said CMA really came to play and finished their opportunities when we couldn’t.”
• CULVER MILITARY 2, PLYMOUTH 0
At Warsaw Soccer Sectional
CMA — Tanner Grant (Luther Jacobs), 18th minute
CMA — Jacobs (Fernando Perez), 45th minute
Shots on goal: CMA 5, Plymouth 6
Saves: Ryan Sete (CMA) 5, Erik Aguilar (Plymouth) 5
Corners: CMA 3, Plymouth 1
Fouls: CMA 8, Plymouth 8
Records: CMA 11-4-2, Plymouth 5-9-4 (final)