TONTOGANY – With their backs against the wall – trailing 1-0 for much of the contest – Swanton put the pressure on in the second half against Otsego Monday. However, the Knights managed to keep the Bulldogs off the board and Clement Thibault tacked on a goal with under eight minutes remaining, lifting them to a 2-0 victory in a Division II boys soccer sectional semifinal.
“I thought we controlled the entire game from start to finish,” said Swanton coach Joe Hensley. “They had a rough time getting through our defense. We made changes to our defense just for that game. I put Riley Hensley – who is normally our striker – at center back and moved Johnny Noegel to right back and Cole Mortemore to left back. We moved Donovan Avalos up to a holding mid position. Otsego’s offense really had no answer for that, the two goals they scored were off our mistakes, so you take those away and it’s a 0-0 game and probably heading into overtime. Not many people realize that Riley is a true center back, so I knew moving him there would help defensively and was hoping to get a couple breakaways for Zach Schaller or Wyatt Lake through the midfield.”
At the 7:57 mark of the second half, Thibault got behind the Swanton defense and fired one in from the left side. This proved to be too big a difference for the Dogs to overcome.
Shortly before, the Dogs came close to getting on the board. Zach Schaller was lined up in front of the net with 9:56 left, but his shot was stopped thanks to a diving save from Otsego goalkeeper Zach Canterbury.
A free kick nearly led to a goal by Schaller at the 23:21 mark of half number two. Cole Mortemore sent a crosser that was received by Schaller, however, his header went off the post and went out of play.
Mason Sullivan of Swanton then had a breakaway streaking up the left side, but the shot went wide of the target with 11:39 to go.
Otsego’s goal in the first half came 11:46 into the contest.
During coach Hensley’s time at Swanton (two years as assistant, one as head coach), he has had a hand in guiding this current group of seniors.
“Can’t say enough about the seven seniors that I had the pleasure of coaching these last three years I’ve been here,” explained the coach. “Zach Schaller, Wyatt Lake, Donovan Avalos, Johnny Noegel, Cody Mohr, Ethan Branum and Dylan Langwell. These guys are a good group of seniors that haven’t had much success as far as the records show, but each of them have the work ethic and desire for the game. To watch them give it they’re all on the field (Monday) and to see the season end like it did for them I felt really bad.”
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010