Argos falls to Providence, settles for state runner-up
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
FISHERS –- One year after reaching the mountaintop of Class 1A boys soccer, the Argos boys soccer team had to watch their opponent celebrate on the same Fishers High School field Saturday.
This time, the top-ranked Dragons fell to No. 2 Providence 2-1 in the state title match.
Edward Bobkoskie scored the game-winner for the Pioneers with 14:18 to go, redirecting a direct kick on a header.
Providence finished 17-3 and won their first state title in school history. Argos finished 18-4-1. They had been unbeaten in their last 14 games since a 5-1 loss at Plymouth on Sept. 9.
The game marked Argos’ first loss in a game in which they led at some point since a 2-1 loss to Oak Hill back on Aug. 22.
It was also Argos’ first loss to another Class 1A team since a 3-2 loss to Boone Grove in the 2018 regional final.
“It’s like a stab to the gut,” Argos senior Gabe Stone said. “It’s so sad right now. It’s really sad.”
While it was a loss for the team, it was a winning day for Argos senior Cam Markley, who won the Cato Mental Attitude Award for Class 1A boys soccer. It marked the second straight year that an Argos player has won this award. Caleb Ellis won it last year.
Kurt Hesse also scored for Providence, tying the game with 33:06 left.
That came after Tomas Guitierrez scored to give Argos a 1-0 lead with 35:43 left at the completion of a strong build-up of play. The goal came after Michael Richard took a floating lead pass on the left flank and set up the Spaniard, who caught up to Richard’s pass in stride and drilled a bullet by Providence goalkeeper Jacob Braswell.
“I felt that we had finally started to do some things we wanted to do from the beginning,” VanDerWeele said of scoring first. “And then giving that first goal up, I think the guys thought we were in a good position. I think they relaxed. We’ve had a problem with that off and on all year.
But Hesse got the equalizer less than three minutes later, scoring his 41st goal of the season on a bullet past Argos goalkeeper Kurt Johnson.
“That first goal they scored was a good play by that player, but we had a player jump up and turn his back, which allowed him to get that space to shoot,” VanDerWeele said. “Jumping in the air and staying on our feet … we preach that all season long to stay on our feet. We just didn’t execute in that situation. That was a good play by them. And of course at that point in time, it’s back to square one.”
Standing 6-2, Hesse literally stood out. He had been averaging more than two goals a game on the season, but Argos limited his touches until he came up with the deadly equalizer.
“We watched film over these guys, and we knew we had to pressure ball right away when they got it,” Stone said. “We couldn’t let them turn. But there were too many times we let them turn and split us too much, and eventually they ended up breaking us down.”
Then came Bobkoskie’s goal, as he got in the way of a direct kick in traffic.
“It’s a foul in a spot that we don’t like to give fouls, obviously,” VanDerWeele said. “And it looked to me like someone missed a mark, and they were able to drive the ball in and just slip it in. It was a great play.”
The last 14:18 were frantic and physical as Argos tried for the equalizer that never came.
With 12 minutes left, Argos’ Ben Rangel had a throw-in that deflected off a player and bounced off the left crossbar.
Argos senior Devon Allen was hit with a yellow card with 10:08 left. With eight minutes left, Braswell ranged far out of his box for a loose ball, but a teammate eventually cleared the ball out of the 18-yard area. Richard got a yellow with 3:43 left before returning to the game 18 seconds later.
With 2:30 to go, Caden Nifong sent a header in the direction of the net, but Braswell fell on it.
Providence had a 7-4 advantage in shots on goal. Each team had two corner kicks.
VanDerWeele said Providence carried themselves with “class.”
“To be completely honest and fair, it was a great game,” VanDerWeele said. “It’s just we were on the wrong side of it.”
Neither side scored in a defensive tussle of a first half. Rangel had the first shot on goal with 34:15 left that Braswell moved to his right to stop.
Johnson routinely handled a Bobkoskie grounder.
The closest Argos came to scoring came on a Teddy Redinger header that Braswell leaped and poked up over the crossbar and past the goal line with 29 minutes left in the half. Braswell also stopped a Jake Stults shot with about 50 seconds to go in the half.
Hesse had two chances in the first half. Johnson, a junior, handled his first shot, and the crossbar got in the way of a Hesse header in the 25th minute.
“Being here last year and just watching and then being here playing is a totally different experience,” Johnson said. “You’re nervous coming in, but you’re also ready in some sort of way. You don’t really know what to expect to happen.”
Winds swirled amid bright but chilly weather conditions. VanDerWeele said Argos had the wind at their backs in the second half, but that did not necessarily turn out to be an advantage.
“In the second half, I thought the wind would help us, but I thought our passes were a little too heavy,” VanDerWeele said. “And the one thing we needed was to get more corner kicks, more pressure, more of those set pieces to try to put pressure on them. Their goalkeeper, we knew that he liked to fumble a lot, and he did today, but we weren’t able to capitalize on a mistake.”
Eight players played their final games for Argos – six seniors and foreign exchange students Guitierrez and Tilly Hildebrant. Devon Allen, Colton Markley, Cam Markley, Stone, Karzdon McCrammer and Nifong were on the Fishers field celebrating a 2-1 win over Indianapolis Lutheran in the 2019 state title game.
“It means a lot,” Allen said. “It felt better to win, but it’s still a good achievement.”
VanDerWeele thinks the devastation of the loss will wane over time.
“It hurts but to be able to get back and to do it again … we fell one game short. But to even get here, the effort that we put in was amazing. I’m proud of the kids. Of course, we’re upset, but years from now, they’ll remember (being) part of two teams that were able to get here. It’s a great experience for them. So, yeah, it probably hurts as much as any other game we’ve ever lost in the tournament.”
The game marked Argos’ last game in the Class 1A state tournament until 2023 at the earliest. Due to the IHSAA Success Factor, Argos will play in Class 2A in 2021 and 2022.
The Argos boys soccer team poses with the Class 1A runner-up trophy on the field at Fishers High School following a 2-1 loss to Providence in the state championship game Saturday. Argos (18-4-1) has won 10 sectionals, eight regionals, two semistates and the 2019 state title since the IHSAA instituted multiclass soccer in 2011.
Argos soccer players are consoled by their fans following a 2-1 loss to Providence in the Class 1A state championship game at Fishers High School Saturday. The loss was Argos’ first toa fellow Class 1A team since a 3-2 loss to Boone Grove in the 2018 regional final.