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Dragons, Cougars battle to tie

October 02, 2019
The North Harrison Cougars were hoping to do like the Lady Cats last Tuesday night in their home stand against visiting Silver Creek after the North Harrison girls had handily disposed of the Lady Dragons just minutes before.

North Harrison's Carter Wetzel (22) works the ball against a Silver Creek defender in the first half, the two teams playing to a 1-1 tie. Photo By Wade Bell
In the boys' contest, both teams had chances to put the other away, especially in the final minutes, but the two teams went on to finish in a 1-1 tie.

"Our whole focus has not so much been the end result, but developing this team in a way and a style of play to create those opportunities," said North Harrison co-coach Marc Burgher IV. "We went through a stretch early in the year where against good teams we weren't getting opportunities ... We would have a ton of transitions, but we weren't getting shots. I think what you saw tonight is this team was very aggressive, offensively attacking, and the guys played at a high level against a good team. Silver Creek is always a strong team. They play a strong schedule. Their record doesn't look that good, but every game they've played they've played really close. We knew it was going to be a one- or two-point game, and we liked our opportunities."

Both teams went straight at each other to begin the game with the Dragons giving North Harrison goalie Logan McIntire plenty of work in the opening minutes. Silver Creek got in five shots on goal before the Cougars' Jake Galligan gave North Harrison its first one, which was stopped by Dragon keeper Nate Dallmann. McIntire had another big stop on a chance by Aiden Garrison. North Harrison had two more chances before halftime but missed a free kick and missed on a header, leaving the game scoreless at the break.

"They attack, and they attack quick," said North Harrison co-coach Kirk Wetzel. "We played quicker than what we do normally. That's what we've been struggling at. It was a lot of back and forth. There wasn't a whole lot of possession. We usually like to possess the ball, so that's a change that we've made. So, it did become a defensive game back and forth with quick transition. You've got to have a different game for different situations."

Silver Creek missed a shot to begin the second half, and North Harrison followed with two misses. With 31:56 to go in the game, however, Marcus Burgher V put the Cougars on the board with a short shot from inside the box. That lead lasted 90 seconds as Jack Gleason drilled a shot into the net for the equalizer.

Minutes later, the Cougars had their biggest chance of the night for a second goal when Dallmann pulled himself several yards out of the box. North Harrison's Lucas Jobe charged in for the kill but a second Dragons' defender flew in and knocked the ball away, leaving the game tied.

"Luke struck a nice ball," Burgher IV said. "The kid jumped in the air. Our kids were yelling 'handball,' and it wasn't. He kind of threw his hands in the air and it hit him in the chest. Had that guy not been there, it's an open goal. It's a score. They had a guy that got back, and that's what good defensive teams do. They drop into position to support when guys get out of position, and their goalie did get out of position."

North Harrison had a free kick stopped, but McIntire denied two late Dragons' attempts as well. With seconds remaining, the Cougars worked furiously for a shot. The Silver Creek defense, however, kept the Cougars from getting to the back of the net, and the game finished in a tie.

"There's some small changes that we're still working on and, as the kids start learning that, down the stretch, it's going to create more opportunities to score," Burgher IV said. "That's what we've been working on for about 2-1/2 or three weeks now."

North Harrison had a total 18 shots on goal with Silver Creek goalie Dallmann stopping nine of those.

"Sometimes when we try to possess, and teams are fast and physical with us, we struggle a little bit in connecting that fifth, sixth, seventh pass," Burgher IV said. "So, what we're trying to do is change the way we attack and we're making a conscious effort to put the other team on always constant pressure and get some opportunities in terms of pressing the ball 75, 80% of the game and having eight shots. We're wanting to play quicker and try to get those shots in the 20 to 25 a game.

Silver Creek had 19 shots on goal with North Harrison goalie McIntire getting nine stops.

"We just talk about getting better every game," said Wetzel. "This just has to transition to the next game and so on and so forth. We're looking ahead. We talk about getting 1 or 2% better every game, and I think this game they really did that. Now, they need to retain it. Hopefully, they see it. Hopefully, they carry it over and play good soccer like they did tonight."

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