Winamac edges Culver, advances to sectional final
Cardenas, Bonnell, Stark score as Warriors avenge regular season loss
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
ARGOS –- Cristian Cardenas, Mitchell Bonnell and Alex Stark each had a goal for the Winamac boys soccer team in a 3-2 win over Culver in a Class 1A, Sectional 36 semifinal at Argos’ Eugene Snyder Field Wednesday.
Winamac improved to 6-8-1 and moved to within a win of their first sectional title since 2001. They also avenged a 1-0 loss in penalty kicks to Culver in their Hoosier North game on Sept. 28.
Winamac will play No. 1 Argos at 7 p.m. Saturday in the sectional final. The Dragons topped Caston 7-0 in Wednesday’s second semifinal.
Trayden Schrimsher had a goal for Culver (6-4-1). He scored on a screaming shot that lodged in the upper corner of the net with 35:20 left. The Cavaliers’ other goal came on an own goal on a scramble in front of the net with 23:35 left.
That goal got Culver within 3-2. They had two more shots on goal after that, but Winamac goalkeeper Max Murray stopped Ashton Macedonio and Schrimsher, who was topped with 4:20 left.
Cardenas scored an unassisted goal in the 10th minute to put Winamac ahead for good. Bonnell’s goal in the 21st minute made it 2-0.
After Schrimsher’s goal, Stark got a steal and scored in a one-versus-one move with 31:45 left to restore a two-goal lead.
“A lot of what is we were a little short-handed the first time with Culver,” Winamac coach Chad Burton said when asked why his team had more offensive opportunities in their second game against Culver than their first. “We had a couple kids out on quarantine. So we were able to get them back and had a few extra bodies. And then I think a lot of it was just winning 50-50 balls in the first half. We were trying to set the tone, and when you win those balls, then you’re able to keep going right back at them, and then you get a little more confidence. That was a lot of it. After we got that lead, then we stopped doing that, and Culver got the confidence and a little momentum.”
Culver first-year coach Adam Llovet said the difference was the slow start. It was a season-long trend.
“Honestly, we struggled to dig ourselves out of a hole almost every game this season,” Llovet said. “And tonight, no exception to that. We had to do the same thing, and I think it came down to Winamac really wanting it and they came out swinging. It’s hard for us to play catch-up, and yet that’s our game of choice apparently. But I think it just came down to timing. I think if we would have played like we did in the second half in the first, I think it might have been a different outcome.”
Burton calls Murray, Stark and center midfielders Jason Tankersley and Jacob Housinger as team leaders.
“As long as those guys in that central spine of us are communicating and working, then a lot of it takes care of itself,” Burton said. “But as soon as we let up and lapse a little bit, that’s when we start having some issues.”
Six Culver seniors played their final prep soccer game: goalkeeper Josh Havron, Wyatt Ringer, Damian Byers, Braxton Conley, Shane Stevens and Schrimsher. Their legacy will be a Hoosier North title, which is the first conference title in school history. After a winless season last year, they won six games this time.
“We’ve just been through so much as a team and so much bonding,” Llovet said. “These guys are absolute sons to me, every one of them. So we’ve had a lot of memories together, that we’ve made. And I think it’s just got to be that special night for us when it came down the very line (against Winamac on Sept. 28), and we got it done.”