DANVILLE – Conference Champs Crawfordsville! Crawfordsville’s boys soccer team claimed a share of the Sagamore Conference championship with a hard-fought and well-earned 5-1 victory over Danville Thursday.
The conference title is the second in three years for the Athenians and third overall. Their titles came in 2016, ’21 and now this year.
“Winning the conference is just so difficult,” Crawfordsville coach Marcus Hale. “I’m just so happy for the kids, the school, our parents and the community as a whole. Tonight was about team effort, and we got that – every single player did his job.”
Hale, who has all three Sagamore titles in his nine seasons at CHS, credited his upperclassmen first.
“Our seniors have been a key part of two,” he noted, “so they understand how difficult this is. Our juniors were a part of the two, or at least exposed to it. Our seniors scored four goals tonight, and all five assists came from seniors. It’s very important.”
Crawfordsville moves to 10-6 on the season, and stand at 6-1 in the Sagamore, tied with Frankfort for first place. The Warriors fall to 8-5-1 overall and finish at 5-2 in the league.
The Athenians got on the board quickly, throwing a wet towel on the Warriors Senior Night.
Manuel Olvera took a beauty of a pass from Patrick Corado and put the first goal up with 32:29 left in the first period.
It set a tone and gave the visitors a little early momentum.
“It was 0-0 two years ago and double OT,” Hale easily remember. “That first goal was big.”
Corado got his first goal of the match at the midpoint of the half, taking a setup pass from Kevin Puerto-Chirinos and weaving his way through some traffic.
The Warriors got their only goal of the night with 17:45 left in the first half, as Deagan Myers punched in a rebound.
Weathering several Danville attacks and close calls in the second half, the Athenians got their third goal with 32:43 left. Olvera took a perfect corner kick from Puerto-Chirinos and headed the ball into the net.
It was the insurance goal that allowed the visitors to play more keep-away.
They got another goal with 5:19 left when Puerto-Chirinos got his own goal, on a pass from Corado.
The cherry on the top was the last goal, with :23.7 remaining, when Jaziel Gil-Herrera lofted a shot over the goalie on a pass from Puerto-Chirinos.
Overall, Puerto-Chirinos had a goal and three assists, Olvera had two goals and a helper, Corado had one of each.
“Hats off to Coach (Vince) Ganzberg,” Hale said of his Warrior coaching foe. “They play defense at such a high level and he is such a good coach. They are a great program and it is certainly easy to see why they are playing for conference championships.”
Athenians goal keeper Alec Saidian faced seven Warriors shots on goal, and had two big grabs on corner kicks that did not count as a shot. The Warriors did have several attacks that got close, and had a point-blank shot go wide, but the junior picked up the win.
Crawfordsville put a dozen shots on Danville goalie Kyle VanDeVanter, and got five past him.
“We took advantage of some opportunities, especially early,” Hale said, ‘but in the end, tonight is about winning as a team. The seniors lead us, and everyone does their jobs. it’s a proud moment.”
The Athenians have just a short time to celebrate the conference championship, as sectional play starts next week. Crawfordsville takes on North Montgomery in first-round action next Tuesday in the 2A sectional at Danville.
“Our seniors and juniors have been part of two conference and one sectional championship,” Hale said, noting that his team is the defending sectional champs. “North is going to come after us, and if we can get by them, it will be either Monrovia or Cascade, and we haven’t played them.”
The Warriors open the post-season next Monday at home when they take on Southmont on their home turf. They are on opposite side of the bracket from Crawfordsville.