On Thursday night at Swanton’s Krupitzer Field, the Bulldogs boys soccer team took on Whitmer and battled the Panthers to a stand off until a goal late in the first half gave Whitmer the lead and ultimately boosted the visitors to a 4-2 victory in a Northwest Ohio High School Soccer League game.
However, regardless of how close the score may have been or how great the odds against winning, it’s not in Swanton coach Kris Krupitzer’s philosophy to just accept defeat under any circumstances. He does not consider the size of the pool that is used to fill the roster, but strictly the number of players on the roster itself. The message he sends to challenge his players is both teams are equal to start the game and if you perform at your highest level, you can achieve success.
“To be honest I don’t take any solace from that game regardless of how big they are or how small we are,” said Krupitzer. “We both have twenty something on the bench and today their twenty something beat our twenty something.”
In the first half, Whitmer used a ball control approach on offense, employing precision passing to methodically work for scoring opportunities. Just six minutes into the game Justin Mendoza drove a shot past Swanton goalie Tylor Prentice to give the Panthers an early 1-0 lead.
There was no letup in the pressure on the Bulldog defense for the next ten minutes and finally, at 24:02, Whitmer scored again to go up 2-0 when Sebastian Schwalde found the back of the net.
Just when it was beginning to look like the game might get out of hand, Swanton caught a break a mere 90 seconds later when a major penalty was called on the Panthers inside the penalty box resulting in a direct free kick.
Tanner Prentice was called on to make the attempt and fired a shot to the right side of the net while the goalkeeper dove to the left and the Whitmer lead was cut in half, 2-1.
The score energized the Dogs and play evened out with both sides getting opportunities but not capitalizing until the 4:15 mark when Tanner Prentice struck again off a feed from Tanner Callicotte and the contest was tied at two goals apiece.
The teams appeared to be headed to halftime all knotted up but Josh Steele ricocheted a drive off Swanton’s right goal post and into the net with 1:18 still left in the half and the teams went to the break with Whitmer winning 3-2.
The second half saw the Bulldogs create several great scoring opportunities but were never able to put the equalizer into the net. Late in the contest, the Panthers got an insurance goal to reach the 4-2 final.
“I was expecting a little better first half out of our guys,” remarked Krupitzer after the game. “I thought we dug ourselves a hole in the first half and had to dig our way out of it and by the time we did, they scored again.”
Swanton plays their final home game this Thursday at 5 p.m. against Bowsher, then travels to Rossford on Saturday for an 11 a.m. game.
Bill O’Connell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org