by Riley Hicks
In Friday night’s chilly doubleheader soccer matchup between the McIntosh Chiefs and the Whitewater Wildcats, each team came into the game with a particular purpose other than just trying to gain victory over a county rival. For the Chiefs, the girls were looking to avenge a loss from last season in the state championship, and the boys were searching for yet another victory to keep their undefeated region streak alive. On the other side, the Whitewater girls hoped to keep its pace from last season as champions in 5AAAAA, while the boys tried to gain a foothold in region competition and show themselves as legit contenders. Once the final buzzer sounded, it was the Chiefs sweeping both games on the road and showing once again they are the team to beat and that the region goes through them.
In the girls game, McIntosh desperately wanted to avenge its title game loss, and they did so with a 3-0 win. With the victory, the Lady Chiefs ran their winning streak to seven straight games, and they are still undefeated in region play.
“We definitely came out strong with a little bit of leftover feelings from last year’s final, so we came out determined,” said McIntosh head coach Casey Kreitner. “We are going to keep working on finishing our chances. We have a lot of speed and ability up top, so we want to keep putting goals away.”
Early on, it was evident that the Chief game plan was to go on the attack as they controlled possession and kept the Wildcat defense on their toes. McIntosh created quite a few chances but kept having their shots go just wide of the net. The deadlock was almost broken in the 23rd minute with a shot from Tariah Miller, but a great save by Whitewater’s Anna Agi turned her away. The heroism wouldn’t last long as just a minute later Agi was tested again, but this time she conceded a goal. It came from a pass by Mackensi Rohn to Carrie Consolino, who shot just over the keeper’s head for the score to put her team up 1-0.
With time winding down in the first half, it looked as if the Wildcats would get out of the half only allowing one score, but in the 39th minute Grace Podolski increased the lead for her team. She outran the defense and settled the ball perfectly for the direct shot on goal for the score to bring the half to a close at 2-0 in favor of the Chiefs.
Throughout the entire first half. there would be little to any offensive possession for the Wildcats.
The Chiefs kept their fast pace attack in the second half, creating multiple chances on goal, but with shots just going wide and great saves from Agi, the game stayed at 2-0. It wasn’t until the 64th minute that the Chiefs put the nail in the coffin with one final goal to close out any chance for a comeback by the Wildcats. Following a corner from Miller, the ball found its way to the head of Skylar Dzenis, who flicked it back right into the net. The Wildcats tried forming some sort of attack of their own but a strong backline from McIntosh kept them scoreless.
“Defense has been playing strong all season,” Kreitner said. “Our center backs are working well together, and our outside backs are making great runs, so just really pleased with their play.”
If it wasn’t for strong defensive play from Bailey Vessell and goalkeeping from Agi, the game could have gotten out of reach fast. It’s still early in the season, and Whitewater still has opportunities to regain their stride. For McIntosh, they are right where they need to be to make yet another run in the playoffs.
In the boys matchup, the Chiefs made quick work of the Wildcats in a 6-2 win. With the victory, McIntosh remains undefeated in region play, and they have now picked up their 10th win of the season. Even with the lopsided score, the Wildcats showed they have the skill to hang and score with some of the best and put their name into the hunt for a region championship.
“I think we were good in spots, and we were shaky in spots,” said head coach Bunky Colvin. “As far as going forward, we were unselfish tonight. Players were looking to set people up and they were drawing Whitewater to one side and finding the open guy. Whitewater is a really good team, and this is a very good result.”
The Chiefs took little time scoring the opening goal as they converted in the 9th minute with a score from Mason Harris. The assist came from Bailey Lopez with a pass from the right corner into the middle to a wide open Harris for the early lead.
Whitewater almost answered back with a score of its own following a throw in from Jordan Outhavong into the keeper box, but McIntosh managed to make the block and get the ball out.
Through the remainder of the half, the momentum and possession stayed entirely with McIntosh as they converted two more scores. The first goal came on a 30-yard rocket from Craig McIwraith, who stood alone in the middle of the field and attempted a shot on goal that went right over the keeper’s head into the net in the 21st minute. Just 10 minutes later, Baba Agbaje found Ryan McBride for another score with the ball hitting the top cross bar and falling into the goal. With the last goal, McIntosh went into the half leading 3-0.
At the start of the second half, the Wildcats made adjustments and came out aggressive on offense and created quite a few opportunities only to have them just miss the mark. Before they got on the board, the Chiefs extended their lead further in the 56th minute. After Agbaje beat his defender and took a shot only for it to hit off the bar, his teammate Lopez followed through on the rebound for the goal to go up 4-0.
Whitewater continued to fight and finally got on the board 58th minute, as Walt Fulton sent in a penalty kick into the box that found the foot of Allen McNell, who located Dillon Gee for the score. The Wildcats struck again just moments later, this time with the assist from Ethan Barton to Gee for his second goal on the night.
With the momentum clearly on the Whitewater side, McIntosh’s defense had to make adjustments and get back control of the game, which they finally managed to do after about 15 minutes.
“They gave us some problems and it took awhile for us to adjust to that, so I have to give Whitewater credit because they knocked some goals in and made it tough,” Colvin said. “Our guys steadied themselves, regrouped, and we finished strong.
The Chiefs added two more goals to put the game out of reach. McIwraith converted his second score of the night in the 69th minute, and with just two minutes remaining McBride scored a final goal for his team.
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