BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
ARGOS — James Rameriz scored in the first half, and Luke Schramm scored off a Caleb Barnard assist in the second half to lead the Elkhart Christian boys soccer team to a 2-0 win over Class 1A, No. 20 Argos at Eugene Snyder Field Tuesday.
Argos fell to 0-3, and they have tallied only two goals total in three games. Warsaw, Oak Hill and Elkhart Christian, the three teams that have beaten them, are a combined 11-1-1.
However, the loss was Argos’ first to Elkhart Christian since 2009.
The first goal came after Schramm ran down a long punt from goalkeeper Isaac Badskey in the box and dropped it back off to Rameriz. The second goal came with 33:03 left after the speedy Schramm converted a through-ball pass from Barnard and sent a shot off the right post and just over the goal line.
The challenge for coach Todd VanDerWeele is replacing departed seniors Teddy Redinger, Michael Richard, Kayden Brady, Dylan Kindig, Kurt Johnson, Ben Rangel, Jake Stults, Connor Tracy, Caleb Rakoczy and Wyatt Tanner from a 10-win team in 2021. In addition, foreign exchange student Vladimir Bernard has returned to France.
After the game, VanDerWeele said “102 percent” of the problems that the team has encountered can be attributed to lack of experience.
He said that the players’ passes got sloppy, and they stopped running as hard at a certain point in the first half. That strongly displeased VanDerWeele.
“I thought our intensity level was much better the second half,” VanDerWeele said. “The most discouraging aspect is that we started off well, I thought, the first 15 minutes, but then we slowly kind of slipped into this blase kind of mess that resulted in giving up that first goal that I attribute to their effort and our lack of effort is really what happened. … When they scored that goal, by that point in time, I thought they were outplaying us by a large margin.”
Argos was shut out only four times last year, but a good buildup of play has eluded them thus far.
“I thought we built up well through the back, through the midfield,” VanDerWeele said. “We were having problems connecting passes in the final third. Later, it got sloppier and sloppier. We had some instances in the second half, but it always seemed there was one pass, one touch, that was failing us in our buildup most of the night.”
VanDerWeele said the team struggled during the summer but played well in a scrimmage against Fort Wayne Dwenger and Fort Wayne Luers on Aug. 13.
Even though they lost 8-0 to Warsaw in their season opener, he said the intensity level was “off the charts.” In a 3-2 loss at Oak Hill, he said that Oak Hill got all three of their goals came on set pieces and said the team had a good intensity level there too.
Tuesday’s game did not meet those standards.
“Tonight it just kind of faded, and I don’t know if it was letdown game,” VanDerWeele said. “I hope that was it as opposed to not taking an opponent as seriously as we should. Part of that is the growing-up process, and I understand. But it so frustrating as a coach.”
Seniors include defenders Nate Manikowski and Darrell Gibson, midfielder A.J. Mills, forward Caleb Poisel and midfielder Coleman Fishburn.
Sawyer Crace is Argos’ freshman goalkeeper. He just started playing that position in the rec league as an eighth-grader and is learning from assistant coach Damon Binkley, who scored 130 career goals as a Dragon.
Other assistant coaches include Elmer Roque, who is back after a one-year stint as the head coach at Rochester, and Joe Kindig, who helps with “statistics and general miscellany,” according to VanDerWeele.
“No one remembers after the season the ups and downs,” VanDerWeele said. “But there are ups and downs during every season. I don’t care if you’re 1-15 or if you’re 15-1. Every season has those games where you struggle. Every season has those games where you play out of your mind.
“Unfortunately for us, tonight was the game where we were just off. With our inexperience, we just couldn't work out of it. I believe by the end of the season we’re going to be a difficult team to play against.”
Watch full match here: