Rockies drop conference opener to talented Tigers

WARSAW —  On the road against defending semistate champion Warsaw, Plymouth was already up against a wall.
When a key player was sidelined with an injury in the second half, things went from bad to worse.
With his team already trailing 2-0, Plymouth defensive player Jordan Popi was forced to leave the game with a broken wrist early in the second half, and the Tigers netted four goals between the 47th and 53rd minutes to put the game out of reach and hand the Rockies an eventual 7-0 Northern Lakes Conference-opening loss at Warsaw Thursday.
“Several calls didn’t go our way, and Jordan Popi, a key player in the back four, left the game with a broken wrist and we ended up frustrated and reeling,” said Plymouth Boys Soccer Coach Josh Martin. “They scored four goals in a six-minute period. Jose Rodriguez took charge this half and really attacked our defense off the dribble and when we shut down his dribble, he found his open teammates with surgical passes. Warsaw then got goal three and four, and when a team like that gets you in that sort of hole, it’s really hard to get out.” 
Rodriguez finished the game with two goals and three assists for Warsaw, while Corey Lopez scored a goal and assisted on the Tigers’ first strike of the night in the 18th minute, and five different Tigers scored as they outshot Plymouth 10-1.
The Rockies played Warsaw to a stalemate the first 17 minutes of play and held the home team to two goals in the first half before the game began to spiral out of control in the second half.
“Our defense did a wonderful job of containing a very dangerous team for most of the first half,” said Martin. “Corey and Diego Lopez were a real handful and we let them get loose one too many times, and they are very skilled players who make you pay when they are free in your box. Going into the second half we thought we could scrap our way back into it, but that didn’t work out.
“We had several flashes of strong play, but we struggled to get (Daniel) Smith, (Andrew) Youst, and (Alex) Orellana into dangerous spots in our offensive third — it’s something we really need to get better at.”
Charlie Brown recorded a pair of saves in goal for Plymouth, and Erik Aguilar made one.
The Rockies open NLC play at 0-1 and slip to 2-1 with their first defeat of the year following lopsided wins over Rochester last week and Whitko Tuesday. Plymouth may meet the Tigers again in sectional play in September as Warsaw hosts Class 2A Sectional 7 in the first year of the IHSAA’s two-class soccer tournament format.
“They are gifted athletically, technically and tactically — there’s a reason they went to the final four in the state tournament last year. We just hope to get another shot at them in sectionals because our kids know that score wasn’t indicative of our ability to compete and play good soccer,” said Martin.
At Warsaw 
First half
Xavier Arellanes (Corey Lopez), 18th minute
Diego Lopez (Jose Rodriguez), 26th minute
Second half
Rodriguez, 47th minute
Corey Lopez (PK), 49th minute
Rodriguez, 51st minute,
Miguel Rivera (Rodriguez), 53rd minute
T.J. Hofer (Rodriguez), 63rd minute
Shots on Goal: Warsaw 10, Plymouth 1
Corners: Warsaw 5, Plymouth 1
Saves: T.J. Hofer 1 (Warsaw), Charlie Brown 2, Erik Aguilar 1 (Plymouth).
Record: Plymouth 2-1, 0-1 NLC.