Argos’ offense put in ‘Park’ in regional final loss
No. 9 Panthers score in each half in 2-0 win over Dragons
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Argos boys soccer seniors, from left, Luke Shafer, Sean Richard, Jackson Kindig and Jared Frick pose with the trophy after the team’s 2-1 win over North White in the Class 1A, Sectional 37 final on Oct. 7. The team’s season then beat No. 12 Carroll (Flora) 2-1 in the regional semifinals Wednesday before falling to No. 9 Park Tudor 2-0 in the regional final at Taylor High School Saturday. Argos finished 6-14.
KOKOMO — Elliot Scotten and Carson Shattuck each scored a goal, and the Park Tudor boys soccer team held Argos to one shot on goal in fashioning a 2-0 win in a Class 1A regional final on the turf field at chilly, drizzly Taylor High School Saturday.
No. 9 Park Tudor improved to 12-6 and earned a semistate date against No. 4 Bethany Christian at Kokomo at 1 p.m. this Saturday.
Argos finished 6-14.
“Park Tudor is historically a very good program,” Argos co-interim coach Damon Binkley said. “We knew they were going to be a good team this year. We came ready to battle, and a battle is what we got.”
Argos’ shot on goal came early in the second half when Sean Richard slid a through ball to Kenyan Beldon on the run, but Park Tudor goalkeeper Gabriel Sanich hustled out of the goal mouth to cut down on Beldon’s angle and stopped his shot to maintain a 1-0 lead.
Shortly thereafter, Ethan Petz also had a shot at net after hustling down a loose ball, but he shot it wide to the left.
Otherwise, it could be considered a frustrating night for Argos. Key defenders Jackson Kindig and Austin Owens both left and then returned with leg injuries.
With 17:54 left in the game, both Sean Richard and Luke Stults received yellow cards for apparently getting into a verbal altercation with Park Tudor’s Teddy Kramer. This came less than five minutes after Kramer had received his own yellow card.
Then, Argos played 10-on-11 for the final 7:48 after Stults received his second yellow card for a rough foul on a Park Tudor player and was ejected.
Park Tudor’s Lorenzo Nofrini had two goals disallowed in the first half on offsides calls, but the Panthers took advantage of a fortunate deflection to cash in with 3:44 left in the half.
Argos goalkeeper Boyd Paul had raced out of the goal to try and thwart a Park Tudor offensive, but after the ball deflected off Paul, Kindig appeared to try and kick the ball out of bounds towards the far sideline.
However, his kick deflected off Paul’s leg and right to Scotten in the middle of the field. Scotten, Park Tudor’s leading goal scorer, tallied his team-leading 16th goal of the season into an empty net to make it 1-0.
“Kinda sloppy, a little unfortunate,” Binkley said. “But they made the most of their chances. Hats off to them. They played well today.”
Park Tudor coach Andrew Kiernan said the weather conditions made clearing the defensive zone difficult.
“It was very difficult for both teams to settle in with the rain,” Kiernan said. “The field was very slick, so we knew there were some unfortunate touches around the box. We were having difficulties clearing it out as well, so right place, right time.”
Park Tudor was awarded a penalty kick just 1:02 left after an Argos foul in the box, but Scotten’s low shot clanged off the left post, and Paul was there to stop a subsequent rebound shot.
Park Tudor’s second goal came with 21:19 left in the game when Shattuck headed home a Conner Kacena-Merrell corner kick into the upper right corner of the net.
Meanwhile, Argos had trouble maintaining a build-up of play into Park Tudor’s side of the field.
“They definitely made it difficult to go forward,” Binkley said. “I don’t think we found our feet as well as we normally do passing-wise, which ultimately will make it difficult against any team, let alone Park Tudor. I don’t think we had a ton of chances offensively compared to our last couple games, but I thought the chances we had were quality. I thought Petz was going to get one there in the second half, which I think would have tied it up and made things look a lot different. But easy come, easy go with chances. … They didn’t come easy, and we didn’t make the most of them when we got them.”
Argos plays two or three games every year on turf, according to Binkley. Though Argos has a limited history on turf, much of it is good. Argos won the 2019 semistate over Lakewood Park on South Bend St. Joe’s turf and the 2019 state title game over Indianapolis Lutheran on Fishers’ turf.
In 2020, Argos topped Heritage Christian in an overtime thriller on Kokomo’s turf before dropping a heartbreaker to Providence on Fishers’ turf in the state title game.
They did not look as comfortable on turf Saturday.
“It’s been awhile since we’ve seen it,” Binkley said. “We talked about making sure we get adjusted to it as fast as we can today. I don’t think we ever quite really got a rhythm with it as far as passing. A lot of our passes were heavy. … We try not to make excuses and adjust the best we can, but we didn’t adjust well today.”
Despite the loss, Argos won their 12th sectional title in the last 13 years.
Binkley called the team’s improved play after a 3-13 regular season that got them in the final eight of Class 1A “movie-like,” especially due to the absence of coach Todd VanDerWeele due to a medical issue.
In fact, when the players stick their hands in a team huddle, they chant “La Familia” on three, a reference to the movie “The Godfather.”
Binkley and fellow interim coach Jon Alcorn and assistants Joe Kindig, Andy Petz and Spencer VanDerWeele praised the team’s unity as well as departing seniors leaders Richard, Kindig, Jared Frick and Luke Shafer.
“They came together at the right time,” Binkley said. “They got hot as a team because they were playing together from the freshmen up to our seniors. We’ll definitely miss our seniors. Each and every single one of them is a leader in some aspect.”
Argos’ history and tradition was not lost on Kiernan.
“They have a winning culture,” Kiernan said. “I think this was their 28th regional appearance of some sort. They won it in ‘19 and got there in 2020. So there’s a culture that Coach is creating that we have to respect. Those kids were peaking at the right moment, but I’m awful proud of our guys as well.”