When West Holmes left the soccer field on Saturday, Sept. 2 at West Holmes High School in their contest with Coshocton, it felt for all the world like the Knights won. The numbers said so. The way the game was played on the West Holmes’ offensive half of the field for much of the second half said so.
Yet the only number that mattered was the one on the scoreboard, where the final score said West Holmes 2, Coshocton 2.
“Yeah, it was something we weren’t too thrilled about,” West Holmes coach Dave Zimmerly said of the final score. “They had a distinct game plan in which they were just launching balls down to our center backs, and they were running two guys underneath that, so if we did win the ball with a header, they just kept kicking it down field. We made some adjustments at the half, and the second half we probably controlled the ball for close to 80 percent of the time.”
Tyler Masters got West Holmes on top in the 23rd minute when he one-timed a feed from Curtis Wagner just past the inside post. Coshocton would respond by getting the equalizer on a free kick from Braeden Wheeler that keeper Brendon Yoder couldn’t quite get to.
While West Holmes didn’t score the rest of the half, it had opportunities. Teddy Liver’s shot with just over 10 minutes in the half was deflected by Redskins keeper Cameron Brown, who had a huge game in net for the Redskins. Slade Barnes’ header off a corner just skipped wide of the goal, and Brown made an aggressive play to come out quickly to grab a pass before Wagner could chase it down.
Mark Biltz nearly put West Holmes in front early in the second half, but again Brown made a sensational save to keep the score knotted at 1-1. Moments later Oliver put the Knights back on top as he finally drove in his first goal of the season.
“We call Teddy ‘Unlucky Teddy’ because he keeps hitting the cross bar and has had a ton of near-misses,” Zimmerly said. “It was nice to see him finally break through and get one. He has been making us tick all season, so it was good he got that monkey off his back.”
West Holmes’ joyful mood was short-lived as several minutes after it took the lead, Coshocton responded by tying it on another free kick. This time Yoder pulled a low screamer in, but during the play a Coshocton player jarred it loose, and Coshocton’s Blake Barrick cleaned it up.
“He probably should have just punched that one out,” Zimmerly said of the free kick. “That is something that Brendon will learn in time.”
Zimmerly said that of the seven goals the Knights have given up in five games this season, six have come on free kicks or penalty kicks, and that is something he said his team will have to clean up.
With the score now knotted at 2-2, West Holmes spent much of the remainder of the game banging away, but Brown proved to be up to the challenge in net for the Redskins. Barnes had another header sail wide as did Masters. The best chance came with just under 11 minutes to play when Wagner got loose and let a shot fly only to have Brown make a sensational save on the ball.
West Holmes (2-1-2) outshot Coshocton (1-0-3) 21-8 and recorded six corners to the Redskins’ two. Brown made a whopping nine saves in net for the Redskins while Yoder recorded four.
Zimmerly said while it felt like his team should have won, it didn’t take away from the effort his team gave throughout the contest.
“We are getting better, and we are starting to build momentum,” Zimmerly said. “Tyler (Masters) is really coming into his own right now, and we are seeing a lot of improvements, and we’re doing some really nice things. We have had times this year where we have taken over games, and I like that this group faces adversity by fighting through it.”
One such piece of adversity was losing leading scorer center forward Brady Campbell for several weeks with a stress fracture. That has forced the Knights to reinvent their offense, something that has been accomplished by moving sophomore Grant Miller into Campbell’s spot.
“We moved Grant inside up front, and he and Masters clicked right away,” Zimmerly said. “Grant has a real pass-first mentality, and he is great at finding guys. Now if we can get him to start to look to score more, we could really have something special, especially when Brady gets back.”