For the better part of 80 minutes of soccer, the West Holmes Knights played a terrific game when they faced Dover in the season opener for both clubs on Saturday, Aug. 19.
However, after a defensive battle the Tornadoes finally found the net with 16 minutes to play, and a late PK with three minutes left gave Dover a 2-0 victory over the Knights.
While it wasn’t the result coach Dave Zimmerly was looking for in terms of wins and losses, it was the effort of his crew that he praised.
“I’ll take it,” Zimmerly said. “In the past we haven’t been overly competitive with Dover, and I thought we played them well all night long. I actually thought we outplayed them much of the night. We had more shots and more corners. We just couldn’t convert some decent chances when we had them. Dover was really physical, and early on they couldn’t break us down, so they just started coming right after us pretty direct. They were just so much bigger than we were. They had a huge advantage there.”
The two teams knocked heads for the better part of 65 minutes before Dover finally came through with a goal to go on top when a ball got loose in front of West Holmes’s net and Trent Nixon, the tallest Tornado, headed a floater over the top of West Holmes keeper Brendan Yoder for a score. With three minutes to play, West Holmes was whistled for a foul in the box, and Nixon was called on to drill the penalty kick, which he did to provide a cushion for Dover, one they almost needed as the Knights nearly put one in the back of the net moments later.
The game was marred by a number of foul calls with each team racking up a dozen of them. Zimmerly said that kind of ruined the flow of the game. However, he said his team simply needs to learn how to deal with adverse situations that crop up.
“That’s soccer,” Zimmerly said. “Things you don’t like are going to happen. You have to deal with them and move on. They were calling a lot of touch fouls. We just need to learn to adapt.”
Zimmerly said the Knights had some dangerous opportunities to score throughout the evening but couldn’t convert. He noted that those types of situations should improve as the year moves forward and experience comes for some of his younger talent.
“I felt that there were times that we were right there in position to score. We just couldn’t break through,” Zimmerly said.
West Holmes fired off nine shots with six on goal while Dover snapped off seven shots with five of those on goal. West Holmes had six corners compared to Dover’s four.
Yoder stepped into the net to replace two-year veteran goalkeeper Drew Campbell, and he did a solid job in net. According to Zimmerly, the sophomore is going to be a great addition to the Knights’ team.
“He’s going to be a good one,” Zimmerly said of Yoder. “He’s got all the tools necessary to help us a ton in the net.”
Zimmerly is excited about the skill set this group brings to the table. They have some players with great speed, like Tyler Masters and Slade Barnes, and they also have some talented players with the ball at their feet, like Teddy Oliver and Grant Miller.
Zimmerly said it all adds up to what should be an exciting season.
“We’ve got great team speed, and we are probably more skilled than we have ever been since I’ve been here,” Zimmerly said. “We just have to keep working at it, and good things are going to happen. I really think this is the most complete team we have had since I’ve been here. We are going to compete with anyone.”
The Knights will need that talent and work ethic because they will have to wade through an Ohio Cardinal Conference schedule that is loaded. Wooster and Mount Vernon boast incredibly strong teams, and Ashland, Mansfield Madison and Lexington will all bring back strong, experienced teams.