MINFORD — Ties certainly aren’t the best result in the world.
But when two programs battle as hard as the Minford Falcons and the Wheelersburg Pirates do in boys soccer competition, the result can certainly be accepted.
After Talen Coriell and Athan Temponeras scored goals within 15 seconds of each other to keep the game notched in a tie, the efforts of both backlines, as well as the play from goalkeepers Logan Boston (Minford) and Dylan Burton (Wheelersburg) kept the game at the aforementioned 1-1 mark throughout the remainder of the contest as both teams settled for a tie on Thursday evening.
But with all that both programs lost due to graduation, Dave Gampp and Jon Estep were pretty pleased with the energy and effort that both programs brought to the conference affair.
“Wheelersburg played hard,” Gampp said. “It’s a good, classy bunch of kids. They play straight up and they play hard soccer. We had our chances and we didn’t take advantage of them. I haven’t seen the stats yet, but I’m sure that we had more chances than they had. We’ve just got to get better and learn from our mistakes. We’ll be ready for them next time. We’ve just got to get better. We looked better tonight than we had been.”
“Whenever your first conference game is on the road at Minford, that’s tough because Minford always brings an excellent crowd and makes the environment tough to go play in,” Estep said. “For them to come out first and score like that was big for them, and I was waiting to see how our team would respond to being down like that, and for the second straight game, we responded fairly well. Both goalies played extremely well and both defense were able to hold and protect the keeper.”
Throughout the first 20 minutes of action, both units struggled to get much going offensively as both backlines remained solid in formation.
But in the 21st minute, however, both units found openings.
After receiving an excellent cross, Talen Coriell was able to take a shot from about 20 yards out and launch a ball over the head of Burton to put the Falcons in front.
“It was a good cross,” Gampp said. “Talen always gets good shots off. When he gets a shot off, you know that the goalie is going to have to make a save. That’s why he plays the position that he is playing. He plays center mid, because he’s strong, and he’s always pressing up to get a goal and get off the backside, because he’s got the leg and he’s got the accuracy.”
However, Wheelersburg’s Athan Temponeras wasn’t about to let the game slip away. Less than 15 seconds later, Temponeras took an excellent through ball up the middle, motored into the middle of the box, and launched a creative finish of his own off to the left side of the goal to tie the score once more and collect the first goal of his career in the process.
“It’s Athan’s first year with us,” Estep said. “We’re excited to have him come out. Anytime you add an athlete like that to your team is very beneficial. His effort and his intensity are big pluses for us.”
Over the remaining portion of the contest, however, Boston and Burton weren’t touched. Both goalkeepers, with the help of two intense backlines, teamed to make a pair of incredible saves to keep the game notched at one apiece. The best chance for either team came with just 52 seconds left, when Wheelersburg received a penalty kick after a Minford foul in the box. The kick, however, sailed just high of the goal as both teams were forced to settle with the 1-1 tie.
Even with that end result, however, Gampp and Estep loved what they saw from their ever-improving goalkeepers.
“Logan did much better tonight,” Gampp said. “He was a little off against Northwest. He wasn’t aggressive and he wasn’t coming out and attacking the ball. He came out against Wheelersburg, attacked the ball like I wanted him to, and he called people off of the ball. We knew he was there, and that’s what I need out of Logan. He had a really good game and a couple of good saves, so he stepped it up tonight and produced for us.”
“Dylan had his ups and downs last year as a goalkeeper,” Estep said. “This year, however, we’ve gotten the play that we have hoped that we would get out of him. I told him after the Zane Trace game that he had played the best brand of soccer that I had seen him play since he took over the starting job, and he’s continued to carry that through this week. We’re extremely happy with the way that he’s playing right now, and he’s continued to come up with some big saves for us.”
With the ties, Minford and Wheelersburg now sit with 1-3-1 and 1-0-2 records, respectively, in 2017. Both teams, however, have already shown a great deal of promise in schedules that include South Webster, Russell (Ky.), Zane Trace, and Northwest, respectively.
“I’ve got great kids,” Gampp said of his unit. “I could not ask for better kids. I’ve always had good kids. You just don’t hear anything bad about these guys. They’re good kids in the school and they’re good kids all the way around. I’m blessed to have that. I thank God every day for that, and I’m blessed in that way.”
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7