• Val T.

Argos blanks Valley, wins in Class 2A postseason debut

M. Richard scores twice, Redinger, Brady Bernard, Morate also tally


BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

FORT WAYNE –- The Argos boys soccer team’s foray into Class 2A started like their journey through Class 1A went – with a win in a sectional game.

Michael Richard scored twice, and Teddy Redinger, Kayden Brady, Vladimir Bernard and Juan Morate added one goal each to lead the Dragons past Tippecanoe Valley 6-0 in a Class 2A, Sectional 22 quarterfinal at Fort Wayne Canterbury on Oct. 4.

Jake Stults, Sean Richard, Luke Stults and Ivan Mezzanzanic each contributed an assist. Kurt Johnson earned the shutout in goal. He had one save on a shot by Caleb Petgen with 28:30 left, but by then, Argos had assumed a 5-0 lead.

Argos improved to 10-6-1 and earned a semifinal date with top-ranked Fort Wayne Canterbury, who received a bye.

Valley finished 7-9-1. Since beating Maconaquah in the 2018 sectional quarterfinals for the first sectional game win in school history, Valley has lost four straight postseason games by a combined score of 33-2.

Argos scored first with 35:16 left on Redinger’s left-footed finish off a Jake Stults set-up from the left side to the back right corner of the net past Valley goalkeeper Dawson Perkins. The goal was Redinger’s team-leading 16th of the season.

Michael Richard’s header off a corner kick from younger brother Sean made it 2-0 with 27:45 left. It was Michael Richard’s first postseason goal since he scored the game-winner in the second overtime against Heritage Christian in last year’s Kokomo semistate.

Brady’s low, buzzing direct kick from about five yards inside midfield beat a screened Perkins and made it 3-0 with 23:20 left.

A left-footed finish in traffic from Michael Richard with 11:45 left made it 4-0.

Luke Stults set up Bernard, a foreign exchange student from France, to make it 5-0 with 7:42 left. Stults’ directed a pass that Bernard caught up to in stride and beat Perkins to his right.

The five-goal margin triggered a running clock.

The game was played in dry conditions, but there had been a brief shower right before kickoff.

“Obviously, very efficient,” Argos coach Todd VanDerWeele said of his team’s finishing ability. “I think the wet field helped that. I think we were very quick to look to shoot most times. There were a few times that we hung on to the ball a little too long in the attacking third, but overall, I thought we were very good and quick in looking to shoot. That’s something we’ve struggled with at times.”

Morate scored the only goal in the second half, beating Perkins point blank thanks to an assist from Mezzanzanic.

Valley had beaten Argos 5-1 on Sept. 28, but that Argos team was filled with JV players. Valley saw the Argos varsity this time.

Valley coach Andrew Luce said afterwards that it was “obvious” that his players need to get into the weight room in order to compete with teams like Argos. But he also praised his players for their improvement during the season. Valley was 1-4-1 after six games but went 6-5 after that.

“It’s really difficult for us because they’re bigger and stronger than us,” Luce said. “They win most of the 50-50 balls. We had a real hard time getting any type of possession of the ball, and you watch the first half, and everything took place on our end of the field. We had two or three miscommunications and some misplayed balls where we gave them soft goals, and the game got out of hand fairly quickly there within the first 30 minutes.”

Valley sophomore midfielder Gio Arriaga, who scored four goals on the season, including one in the Sept. 28 game against the Argos JV, played only the first 26 seconds before being lifted due to injury.

“Gio has been nursing a deep thigh bruise over the last week and a half,” Luce said. “We thought on Friday we’d give it a go to see how he felt. So I was not surprised we needed to make adjustments once he came out. He was kind of 50-50 going in as it was. … He didn’t even play against LaVille last Thursday. We held him out in hopes he’d be ready to play tonight, but that just wasn't the case. I think overall honestly, it probably didn't determine us losing the game, but it did certainly weaken our back defensive area because we had to sacrifice Jon Ruiz, moving him from top of the midfield to the back.”

Argos was playing their third game in five days. They had beaten Culver Academy in penalty kicks on Thursday and edged rival Bethany Christian 1-0 on Saturday.

“Those two games at the end of last were very intense,” VanDerWeele said. “I was really surprised, and of course, we got the early one, and that helped a little bit. I think we relaxed. We still played hard after that, but we were relaxed, and it made things a little easier for us. I was able to sub a lot, which is going to be vital because our reward now is to play the number one team in the state.”

Argos and Fort Wayne Canterbury were the Class 1A and Class 2A state runners-up, respectively, in 2020. Argos won their lone IHSAA soccer state title in 2019 plus three state titles in the pre-IHSAA era in the 1970s. Fort Wayne Canterbury has won seven state titles – three in the single-class era and four more in the multi-class era.

Both the Dragons and Cavaliers are playing up in Class 2A due to the IHSAA Success Factor. VanDerWeele called Fort Wayne Canterbury “a storied program.”

“We had quite the up-and-down season, I feel,” VanDerWeele said. “We had some really good games followed by some stinkers. But I think that Culver (Academy) game last week, we were ahead and then we got behind and we were behind forever, and I never felt last week against Culver like we were never going to have a chance to tie that game. And we ultimately did, and I think that was a huge moment for these guys.”

Valley loses Perkins, Petgen and Alexis Hernandez to graduation.

“The silver lining is we have a core group of juniors that really formed the nucleus of our team this year that can take a big step up next year with a successful offseason program next year leading into the summer, but what we have to understand is after a couple weeks off, the next seven or eight months is going to determine how we come out in August ready to play to start the season,” Luce said.


Kayden Brady


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