McDERMOTT — Especially on Labor Day weekend, the Minford Falcons and Northwest Mohawks didn’t want to see all of Saturday’s hard work in a makeup matchup go for naught.
In a scoreless tie, though, that’s difficult to determine.
While not preferred, but better than a defeat, the visiting Falcons and host Mohawks indeed didn’t settle anything —as the two played to a 0-0 draw in a Southern Ohio Conference Division II tilt inside sun-soaked Roy Rogers Field.
The Falcons are now 2-0-1 (1-0-1 SOC II), while Northwest — in just its second match after enduring a mandatory two-week shutdown due to a positive coronavirus case within the program — remains winless but unbeaten at 0-0-2.
The Mohawks, which hosted West Union in a non-league makeup encounter on Monday, officially opened their season last Thursday with another deadlock — a 1-1 tie against non-league New Boston.
But almost always within a tie, to some teams it feels like a loss —while others’ experiences are along the lines of victory.
For the Mohawks, which had just three shots and all on goal including Dylan Dehart’s hard rocket that clanged off the crossbar with 11-and-a-half minutes remaining, it was more like the latter.
Minford maintained most of the possession in its offensive half and even third for especially the first half, as the Mohawks moved the match more between the 25-yard lines into the second 40 minutes —and even for a span of a few minutes into its offensive end.
“I told the kids we’re still unbeaten. We played well today. We made some changes from Thursday’s game, where we came out rusty and the kids were kind of out of position, which is my fault. With the two weeks off and no scrimmages for us, that’s just part of it, but I thought we played really well the second half of the New Boston match and that gave us some momentum headed into today,” said Northwest coach Josh Keeney. “We changed some formations around, and I thought the kids’ intensity and movement was by far better than the first game.”
For the Falcons and head coach Dave Gampp, it was an opportunity at a win that went awry early.
Minford finished with 10 shots including seven on goal, but had three of them doink off the crossbar in the opening eight minutes — two by freshman forward Sam Tieman and one by junior Zane Miller.
Miller missed one at point blank range as well in that Falcon flurry of attempts.
“That’s what’s tough,” said Gampp. “We started out really strong and had them on their heels. We had some really good looks only to hit the crossbar, and even a couple of headers wouldn’t go in for us. They (Mohawks) collected themselves, and then we started playing kickball rather than possession for a little while. No excuses, Northwest played really well against us. They played solid and with passion. I felt we had better ball skills, we just didn’t take advantage of them when we should have.”
The Falcons had just two shots in the entire second half —the same amount as the Mohawks over the final 40 minutes.
Jesse Cantrell made three important saves for Minford, including off Levi Jenkins’ shot with just 7:07 left in the first half — in which the tall stout senior keeper Cantrell went to his knees for that stop.
He then made a high finger-tip save with 22:43 to play, before 11 minutes later ultimately making the save on Dehart’s shot that ricocheted off the crossbar and resulted in a scrum in front of the net.
“Jesse had some good grabs there and was in the right position,” said Gampp. “There was that one transition that really got ugly in the middle with a lot of kicks and thumps and Jesse still got in there and got a hold of it and controlled it like he is supposed to as a goalie.”
Speaking of keepers, Northwest netminder Logan Shepard stood up to the task as well — posting a clean sheet and surviving the early Falcon offensive onslaught.
Minford had three corner kicks compared to none for the Mohawks, as the physical contest resulted in 16 Falcon fouls and a dozen called on Northwest.
“Our defense was real flat at the beginning, and it was scary at first because Minford had three, four, five chances there early. About 15 minutes in, we started settling down and playing more balls, playing more passes and give-and-gos and started opening up the field,” said Keeney. “I thought we started to control the game a little bit more possession-wise, but we just couldn’t get one in the back of the net. We had a couple of chances late to steal it, but it is what it is.”
And, what it was on Saturday was a scoreless tie — where on Labor Day weekend that hard work was all for naught, depending upon your perspective.
“No one likes ties, they are like losses in this league. They cost you the SOC (championship) normally. But they (ties) are better than a loss. That’s the crazy part about soccer. You can have all the possession like we had, and lose 1-0 and have all that possession not mean anything. You can outplay a team and play really good and still come away with a loss,” said Gampp. “Hopefully, we can get those crossbar shots just three inches lower to kick straight into the net instead of straight back in our face. It’s early in the year, so we’ll see how it goes.”
“I’m frustrated with a tie, but with a good Minford team, a tie is better than a loss,” said Keeney. “We started four freshmen and two sophomores today. To start several young kids in a varsity match against Minford and play to a tie, I’m proud of my guys.”
Minford will travel to Waverly on Tuesday night in the SOC II, while Northwest will host defending division champion and undefeated Wheelersburg on Tuesday night.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved