It wouldn’t take long to count the number of goals in West Holmes and Madison’s boys’ soccer game in Millersburg Tuesday, Sept. 20.
That would be zero.
But for a scoreless tie, this game was truly a well-played, hard-fought battle in which every single moment left fans on the edge of their seats. For a game with no score, it certainly did not lack in entertainment and action.
“This is a nice, young Madison team that is really coming on,” said West Holmes head coach Dave Zimmerly. “They played very well when I went and scouted them. They are young but very aggressive, and we knew it was going to be a battle.”
While both teams raced up and down the field to create opportunities, both defenses were up to the task, and neither team could find the back of the net.
With veteran Drew Campbell in net and a defense that continues to get better and better, the Knights turned aside several of the Rams’ golden opportunities, especially late in the game when the intensity level rose to great proportions.
“I’ve been doing this for a long enough time now that I might as well get used to it and not get nervous about it anymore,” said Campbell of fending off several late charges by the Rams that could have resulted in goals if not for the handiwork of the defense. “I think I would rather play in this kind of game, where there isn’t any scoring and everything is important. I like this kind of game. I like the challenge.”
Rams head coach Tim Lord said it would have been fulfilling for his team to knock home one of its shot and leave Millersburg with a victory, but he was simply impressed with his young team’s effort and zeal throughout the contest.
“We had a rough game on Saturday in a game in which we did not play very hard and the effort wasn’t there, so we went pretty hard at it in practice yesterday,” said Lord. “We worked hard all game, and I was pleased with our effort tonight.”
Sporting four freshmen and four sophomore among the starters, the Rams are quite young, but certainly don’t lack in talent. Now at 5-3-2, Madison continues to get better as the season rolls along.
So too do the Knights, who have some youth on their side of the ball as well. After a slow start to the season, West Holmes is now 4-4-1, and both teams knew coming in that it was going to be one of those games where every single play mattered, and the tiniest of mistakes could be the difference between a win and a loss.
“Every time we come in and face West Holmes we know they are going to play extremely hard,” said Lord. “That was a good game, back and forth all night. Both teams gave a lot of effort, and we did everything we could to get a goal, but we couldn’t stick one in. We did everything we could, and it wasn’t like we were making a lot of mental mistakes.”
Zimmerly also took the tie in stride, noting that he was disappointed his Knights couldn’t find the back of the net to get a W, but pleased with his team’s overall performance.
“It got to the point where if a team scores on you late, it really hurts, and I thought our defense did a nice job late in protecting our goal and keeping the shutout intact,” said Zimmerly.
Zimmerly said he decided to alter the game plan about 10 minutes into the second half, in order to create some more scoring opportunities.
That nearly backfired, as the Rams made several late charges at the net.
“They just started hitting BBs at our back line,” said Zimmerly with a laugh. “They can knock the ball around, but when they start hitting those bullets at your back line, they can become extremely dangerous.”
The one thing Zimmerly said he did not want to do in the game was give up a lot of corner kicks to the speedy and dangerous front line of Madison.
That game plan did not play itself out, but the Knights were able to fend off nine corner kicks from the rams. West Holmes outshot Madison 11-10, and Campbell made six saves to Madison keeper Mason Thomas’ five.
“Both teams had their opportunities, but both goal keepers were aggrerssive in controlling their box,” said Zimmerly. “Madison created a couple of great scoring chances off of corner kick opportunities. We did some things well and other things we didn’t do so well, but we got a good result.”
The shutout was the Knights’ fifth of the season, meaning that they have not given up a goal in all four of their wins and the tie. Oddly enough, Zimmerly said that in their four losses, they have been shut out.
“If we lose, we get shut out, and if we win or draw, we get a shut out,” said Zimmerly with a chuckle.
Both teams left the pitch feeling they had played well, and the tie was definitely a fitting way to end a game that was a showcase in defense, coupled with two teams leaving everything on the field.