End of the campaign
MISHAWAKA — Counter-attacking in soccer can be a valuable tool.
Penn’s boys soccer team proved that Monday night.
Moments after La Porte appeared to take a 1-0 lead about midway through the first half, hitting a post with a shot that bounced out, the Kingsmen emphatically answered. It took them roughly a mere 30 seconds later to crack the scoring column, netting Jeff Harper’s goal on a counter attack.
From there, Penn (6-8-3) rolled, sending the Slicers to a season-ending 7-0 loss in a Class 3A Penn Soccer Sectional opener.
“That’s part of attacking, transitioning to defense,” La Porte coach Pat McCoy said. “And they transitioned to offense better than we transitioned to defense. So we’re down there celebrating what we thought was a goal, and we were probably 20 yards behind by the time they started coming back downfield again.
“That’s just a mental breakdown.”
Salvador Martinez had a golden chance to put the Slicers (4-12) ahead. His shot hit the right post and seemed to go into the goal, only to roll along the goal line and bounce out. Harper then finished his shot to the left part of the net, giving Penn the lead with at 24:07.
“That was a good goal on their part, but it was stoppable,” McCoy said. “If three guys do what they’re supposed to do, that doesn’t happen, but such is the game.”
The Kingsmen controlled possession and completely out-shot La Porte in the opening half, building a 3-0 cushion at the break.
Peter Smith had Penn’s second tally, a low shot to the left of the goal after faking out a defender at the 11:52 mark. With just under two minutes to go in the half, Alexander Karamitsos netted a low shot into the left portion of the net.
With around 20 minutes left in the game, the Slicers put a little offensive surge together. Elias Gonzalez had a quality chance, but his hard shot was just wide left and high. Penn goalie Eric Baker hit the ball out of bounds for a corner kick.
Earlier in the first, La Porte’s Kaleb Cooper had some nice crosses into the box, however, his team couldn’t score.
In the second, facing a big deficit, the Slicers played several reserves to give them experience. The Kingsmen’s David Ross, Evan Pica, Ryan Hague, and Jesus Marquez all recorded goals.
“A lot of (Penn’s) guys play club soccer in the offseason, and some of our guys do, but not all of our guys,” McCoy said. “Some of it is the depth of their athleticism that they have that we don’t have. They do probably more fitness, strength, and conditioning than what we do.”
La Porte starting keeper Angel Garay finished with six saves. Freshman Alex Juszczak replaced Garay after Penn’s fourth goal early in the second half and had one save.
La Porte says goodbye to seven seniors, Gonzalez, Thomas Krause, Kobe Hayward, Michael Fuentes, Preston Krause, Diego Magana and Garrett Wade.
“This has been a really strong senior class, believe it or not,” McCoy said. “Our record and results don’t really show it, but we just haven’t been able to pull it together. This has been a very good senior group, a lot of good soccer players. We’re going to miss them. There’s going to be a lot of holes to fill.”
Penn faces South Bend Adams in today’s semifinals. The Eagles routed South Bend Clay 8-1 in Monday’s opener.