Usually soccer games are not won or lost in the first five minutes of play, but when West Holmes took on Northwestern on Thursday, Sept. 27, a major factor in the outcome of the game took place, and the Knights took full advantage to complete a 4-0 victory over the Huskies.
In the fifth minute Zachary Whatman of Northwestern denied a goal with his hand and was red carded, resulting not only in a Tyler Masters penalty kick score that gave West Holmes a 1-0 lead, but it also forced Northwestern to play a man down.
The Knights were already favored to win, and this left little doubt as West Holmes went to work and dominated play.
“It was pretty bizarre,” West Holmes head coach Dave Zimmerly said of the red-card play. “He came flying in at 100 miles an hour, and the keeper was on the far side, and we crossed it, so we had a wide-open net. The ball was going in, and he was trying to head it and wasn’t able to, so he stuck his hand out and knocked it down, but then he drilled the post really hard. I was just glad he got back up.”
It did not take the Knight long to capitalize on the advantage. Less than one minute after Masters had put West Holmes on the board, Curtis Wagner scored off a Grant Miller cross to make it 2-0. In the 21st minute Miller scored one for himself, and just three minutes later Miller buried another one off of an assist from Masters.
Zimmerly substituted liberally throughout the game as he ran players in and out, and players like Miller, Masters and others who normally don’t ever come out got plenty of breathers.
“We came in with the expectation that we were going to be more wide-open with the way we played,” Zimmerly said. “Then with the red card and up a man, we got that huge lead about 25 minutes in, and I was able to substitute some kids out that I normally don’t bring out of the game.”
Throughout the second half the Knights kept applying some pressure, and Masters banged one off the post not once but twice, but the Huskies kept the ball out of the net.
While the Knights were in total control, the game wasn’t without its tense moments for keeper Brendon Yoder. Two times the Knights committed penalties in the box, once in the first half and once in the second half, but both times Yoder turned away penalty kicks to keep the Huskies off the scoreboard.
“We had them defended, and then we just got overly aggressive and made a couple of unnecessary penalties in the box,” Zimmerly said. “We want to play hard, but we have to be smarter and play under control.”
However, Yoder was up to the challenge in swatting away both Northwestern attempts, although the first attempt took a conversation between the officials to talk about whether or not the ball had crossed the line.
The saves helped preserve the shut-out for the Knights’ defense. Zimmerly said his team has given up enough charity goals this season, and posting a goose egg was a good positive for his team.
“Every coach wants the shut-out, and I thought our defense overall played a really good game,” Zimmerly said.
The overall numbers were not as lopsided as one might think with the Knight taking 15 shots, nine of them on goal, while the Huskies fired off seven shots, four of those on goal. Both teams took one corner kick. Yoder made four saves, and Braxton Mathias made five for Northwestern.