Revenge is a dish best served cold.
The Warsaw boys soccer team had to wait a year to get vengeance on a NorthWood side that knocked them from the ranks of the unbeaten last season, but did so in dominant fashion Tuesday night, scoring two goals in the first half and three in the second to defeat the visitors 5-0 at the Tiger Soccer Complex.
It was Senior Night for the Tigers, who took the time before the game to honor the following seniors, listed in jersey number order: Raul Carbajal, Matthew Marsh, Talan Asay, Noah Van Puffelen, Eduardo Escutia, Braydon Bussard, David Montoya, Knox Ritter, Rylan Smith, Isaiah Lara and Julian Saldivar.
All eleven seniors got the nod in the starting lineup for Warsaw. Both sides wasted no time getting right into it, with NorthWood beginning the game with a nice spell of possession. It would only last for a few minutes though, as the Tigers would settle in and begin to dominate control of the ball.
Despite having possession for a majority of the first half, it was difficult for the Tigers to get onto the scoreboard at first. The home side tried a variety of angles, passes long and short as well as a few solo runs from defenders, but nothing was able to get past the back line of the visitors.
The only shot on goal in the first ten minutes belonged to Warsaw, with Escutia just barely missing out on scoring on a great shot from just outside the box. Unfortunately for him, NorthWood’s goalie, Trace Roa, made an even better save.
Nearly 10 minutes later, Warsaw would have another great chance, with a few different Tiger players taking a shot with the ball loose in front of the net. That particular chance wouldn’t lead to anything, but the chance generated off of the ensuing corner kick would. The corner would lead to another mad scramble, but this time, Ritter was in the right place at the right time and scored the game’s first goal.
Senior Knox Ritter makes Senior Night a memorable one by scoring Warsaw's first goal Tuesday night against NorthWood. Photo by Gary Nieter
Following the opener, the game regressed back into back-and-forth midfield play between the two sides. NorthWood would have a few chances of their own, winning three corner kicks in the final 15 minutes, but the Tiger defenders were able to snuff it out each time, with Carbajal making his only save of the first half on the third attempt.
With just 30 seconds to go in the first 40 minutes of play, Van Puffelen, who had been uncharacteristically quiet to this point, made his presence felt in a big way. Getting the ball near midfield, Van Puffelen took it the rest of the way, beating a series of defenders and the keeper on his way to doubling the Tiger lead just before halftime.
Warsaw continued to apply the pressure out of the halftime break, continuing to win every loose ball and push it downfield as quickly as possible. What followed was a series of great chances for the Tigers, but each time, the final pass or touch was just off, leaving the score at 2-0.
That is, until about the seven minute mark of the second half. Van Puffelen added to his total with a beautiful goal. Shooting from just outside the right side of the box, the senior was able to place a laser perfectly into the bottom left corner of the net, just past the outstretched arms of Roa.
Van Puffelen wasn’t done. With just 12 minutes to go in the game, the striker scored perhaps his most impressive goal yet to put the game on ice. Van Puffelen lofted a shot with a perfect bend from just outside the left side of the box and into the upper right corner of the goal for the hat trick. The sensational score brought the Warsaw student section to its feet.
A few minutes later, the Panthers were almost able to get one back as a misplay in the midfield left the Tiger back line vulnerable. Luckily for the home side, the final pass was just off the mark, resulting in the shot that followed to sail wide of the net.
Even with the game all but over at this point, the Tigers continued to search for more goals. While the home side did add a few more chances in the final minutes, it wouldn’t be until 21 seconds left in the game when Ritter would put the icing on the cake with his second goal of the night.
Warsaw (8-1-1) has a quick turnaround, playing its next game Wednesday night at Homestead.