For the final 77 minutes of Saturday’s 1A girls soccer regional match between host Argos and Westview, it was fairly clear that the Lady Warriors were the better team on the pitch.
Unfortunately for coach Jon Jantzi’s squad, it was the first three minutes which ruined their night and brought an end to its stellar season.
The Lady Dragons scored two goals in the first 2:30 of the match, then held on to defeat Westview, 2-1 to claim their third straight 1A regional crown.
A booming, left-footed kick by Courtney Dunlap 92 seconds after the opening whistle quickly staked Argos to a 1-0 lead. Kennedy Binkley earned an assist on the play.
Less than a minute later, a corner kick by Shelby Sanders eluded Lady Warrior keeper Grace St. Clair and ended up in the net, giving the Lady Dragons a two-goal edge.
“Slow starts have been our nemesis all season long,” said Jantzi. “We knew what Argos would bring in the early part of the match, but for some reason the girls couldn’t match their intensity. They weren’t pressing up, winning 50-50 balls and we allowed a corner kick, something we told them over and over again that we couldn’t do.”
The Lady Warriors began to find their stride soon after Sanders’ goal and began to put together several good scoring opportunities. The best came with 2:45 left prior to halftime when Argos was whistled for a foul in the penalty area. But Riley Hochstetler’s penalty kick glanced off the right post, keeping the visitors scoreless.
“That (penalty kick) could have changed the match,” said Jantzi.
Westview continued its attack on the Argos goal in the second half, but none of its shots could find the mark. With three minutes left, Hochstetler took a direct kick from 20 yards, but the ball sailed just above the upright.
Finally, with 21 seconds left, Erika Gamble drove home a 25-yard shot off a corner kick to get the Lady Warriors on the board. But Argos kept the ball out of its own zone as the final ticks drained off the clock.
“It was great to see the girls battle back the way they did after the start we had, which is something I don’t know if they would have done earlier in the season,” cited Jantzi. “This loss can’t take away the accomplishments they had this year, including the first outright NISC championship in program history and a third straight sectional title. They have a lot to be proud of.”
Westview ends its season with a 15-5 record.
As for Argos, it will host the 1A northern semi-state this Saturday. The 13-6-1 Lady Dragons meet 12-7 West Lafayette at 10 a.m., followed by the clash between 17-1-2 Wheeler and 14-4 Fort Wayne Luers. The championship match is slated for 7 p.m.