Trailing at the half in a pivotal league match, Evergreen dug deep to come up with a pair of second half goals and snatched victory away from Archbold, 2-1, in Northwest Ohio Athletic League girls soccer at Ruihley Park in Archbold Tuesday evening.
The win marked the first time the Vikings were able to defeat the Blue Streaks since getting a girls soccer program.
“This is an unbelievable win,” stated Evergreen Coach Joshua Radel. “We’ve never beat Archbold. They are always our team that we know is a nemesis and we struggle with. They’re just so well-coached and disciplined.
“Going down 1-0 at half, the heads were hanging a little bit. I just preached to them, ‘you gotta believe. There’s not been one game we haven’t scored this year. And just believe in yourselves, play your game, and you’ll get some goals.’ I guess, praise the Lord man it happened.”
While Evergreen would have some chances early, including Raegan Radel’s shot just under four minutes in that banged off the crossbar from about 15 yards away, it was Archbold who dented the scoreboard first.
“I thought we came out tremendous tonight,” said Archbold Assistant Coach Jennifer Kidder. “They started strong, their passing was outstanding. They were taking the shots and that was great to see.”
Cashing in for the Streaks was Sophie Rupp, hammering a shot home from the right side for a 1-0 lead just past the halfway point of the first half.
“Sophie had that rocket of a shot,” noted Kidder. “Which, was huge for her. Because, our team is so banged up and bruised up, and people hurt and sick and not here. We completely changed the lineup. Today was Sophie’s first day ever playing up top for us. And, like it worked, so it was great to see that.”
Having just tied Bryan in a league matchup the previous week, a loss would be detrimental to the Vikings’ hopes of a NWOAL title with only a game with Swanton remaining. Evergreen was aware of this, thus seized the moment in the second half.
“Seniors, there was a lot of frustration in the first half. They started kind of even yelling at each other a little bit — which is non-typical of our team. Just told them listen, ‘if we stay positive, if we find feet, if we play our game, we can beat them.’ Again, they’re very disciplined, they’re well-coached, but mistakes are gonna happen on either side and we got to capitalize on them. And we did,” said Coach Radel on his message to the team when they were down.
The Vikings knotted the score at the 31:12 mark of the second half with a boot from the left side by Paige Radel.
She also had a hand in the go-ahead goal some 14 minutes later.
Evergreen’s Sydney Woodring blasted a ball from the left in the direction of a scrum in front, it was hip-checked by Paige Radel — possibly deflecting off an Archbold defender as well — and snuck in the left-corner of the net to give the Vikings a 2-1 lead with 16:56 remaining.
“Normally we don’t get those,” said the Viking coach. “We’re normally the team that’s unlucky. But this team right here is special. I’ve been telling them all year, this is the team that can do some special things. If they play hard and stick together, it’s endless on where this team can take it.”
They would hold off the Streaks for the one-goal victory, but Archbold had little to be discouraged about.
“We still played really well in the second half I thought. Probably not as good as the first half, but that’s how it goes. We didn’t do a lot of subbing. It’s unfortunate to come away with a loss tonight,” explained Kidder.
Evergreen improves to 4-0-1 in the league. Archbold finishes the league slate at 2-3-1.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.