SOUTH BEND - After a physical, scoreless first-half, Argos soccer fans were singing in the rain by the end of the second as the Dragons defeated the Lakewood Park Christian Panthers, 2-0, to win the Class A high school boys semi-state friendly at South Bend Saint Joseph High School Saturday.
The win puts the Dragons (17-4) into the state championship game for the first time since the magical 1979 season.
“This is a great feeling,” said defender-turned-forward Teddy Redinger, who played a big part in both goals. “It means so much to us.”
The energy from both squads was high right from the start, but neither team could score in the first 40 minutes and it looked like an overtime/shootout was on the horizon.
“It was just two teams trying to sort things out,” said Argos head coach Todd VanDerWeele. “It was 40 minutes of, ‘What is this game going to be?’ and the rain was another curve ball.”
Midway through the second half though, a seemingly harmless through-ball from Dragon defender Sam Manikowski shot past most of the Lakewood defense. Late-season scoring machine Redinger controlled the ball and sent a left-footed boot into the back of the net for the initial goal.
“I saw Sam play the ball through, made my run, and I saw the goalie come out so I just played it to the far corner,” said the sophomore.
VanDerWeele added, “The first goal was huge. Especially in high school sports, you get on top, it’s such a drag on the team that is behind. It makes it hard to come back. I was hoping we’d get one in and get ahead.”
Fifteen minutes later, Redinger was part of a second scoring play. This time his header reached Michael Richard, another sophomore, who slotted it past the Panther keeper as well.
“I was in the air so I slipped it to Mike,” Redinger said of the sequence. “I didn’t know he was there, but I knew someone would be there.”
“That was a fantastic slip of the head,” added VanDerWeele of Redinger’s assist. “He really struggled in the first half. They were keying on him and he wasn’t dealing with that at all. He got banged up a couple of times too. He’s a big kid though and likes to play physical. Even when he played in the back, there wasn’t much that bothered him. One thing about a goal-scorer, they can’t think about their last miss. You have to think about the next opportunity. He just plays. He doesn’t let anything that happened before effect him.”
Lakewood Park Christian (17-3-1), who defeated No. 1 Park Tudor in the regional final, did not roll over despite the two-goal deficit. In fact, the Panthers had two good scoring chances in the final two minutes, but Argos keeper Colton Markley’s diving effort stopped one, then on a 2-on-1 breakaway, Zach Collins’ shot was wide.
“We were concerned with #13 (midfielder Jacob Hallam),” VanDerWeele said of the defensive game plan. “He’s a heck of a distributor. We didn’t want him to have free reign and find (leading scorer) Collins. If they were going to find Collins, they’d have to do it from a different direction. Collins didn’t finish today, luckily. (Owen) Nifong and Manikowski did a great job of keeping him at bay.”
Argos (17-4) will face Indianapolis Lutheran (15-6) for the state championship on Friday, Nov. 1, at Fishers HS. Kick-off is set for 8 p.m. following the Class A girls state final.
•ARGOS 2, LAKEWOOD PARK CHRISTIAN 0
At South Bend (Class A Northern Semi-state)
A - Teddy Redinger (Sam Manikowski) 58th minute
A - Michael Richard (Redinger) 73rd minute
Shots: Argos 6, Lakewood Park Christian 9
Saves: Argos 3 (Colton Markley), Lakewood Park Christian 1 (Josh Pike)
Fouls: Argos 8, Lakewood Park Christian 5
Corner kicks: Argos 3, Lakewood Park Christian 3
Yellow cards: Argos 1 (Redinger), Lakewood Park Christian none
Record: Argos 17-4, Lakewood Park Christian 17-3-1 (final)