By CAINE GARDNER
BROWNSBURG -- A few crucial moments made all the difference in Saturday's Class A soccer sectional when Greencastle faced off against Tri-West. The Bruins came out on top 2-0 to claim the sectional title.
It was clear from the opening whistle that Tri-West's style of game was fast and physical. The bigger Bruins tried to overpower the Tiger Cubs all across the pitch, but GHS had no intentions of going down without a fight.
Greencastle survived a powerful shot off the leg of Josh McGrath in the first half that rattled the goal behind keeper Zane Miller as it hit the bar and bounced away.
Tri-West's first goal of the game came as the first half was coming to a close. With 3:07 left, Jaret Degolyer tapped a shot past Miller to put the Bruins up 1-0.
Following halftime, Greencastle continued to fight for position, but as soon as it looked they had an advantage, Tri-West would up the physicality, disrupting the Tiger Cubs' plan of attack.
That physical play continued throughout the second half and GHS head coach Dave Lilly acknowledged the Bruins' physical play hindered his squad.
"It's really hard to get anything going because any time we had something in a threatening position, we were getting fouls. He (the official) was calling the fouls, but at some point it become persistent infringement and you give the next gets the caution," Lilly said.
For the game, Tri-West earned two yellow cards, while Greencastle senior Nick Tharp earned one in the second half.
Greencastle's best chance at tying the game came late in the game when Justin Hartman set his sights on the goal and unleashed a kick that appeared to be heading into the net. However, as the shot approached, it trailed off and caught the bar, with Tri-West able to clear it.
Lilly said Hartman's shot, coupled with the bad restart that resulted in the Bruins' first half goal, was the difference in the game.
"The one restart with a couple minutes to go in the half hurt because we had played pretty well up to that point," Lilly said. "We were not winning those 50/50 balls, especially in front of our goal and a guy taps it around Zane.
"Zero-Zero at the half, it probably a different outcome. The ball that Justin hit, I had a perfect line on it, and it was going upper-90 side netting. I don't know if it was just a little bit of wind, but it just pushed it out and it hit the bar. When he hit it, I saw it, it was going in -- I was already counting it. That was unfortunate because that would have put us even again," Lilly added.
The Bruins were able to tack on another goal with 13:45 remaining when McGrath sent a hard shot past Miller to cap the match's scoring.
Greencastle continued to fight until the final horn, but the Tri-West defense was tough to navigate and scoring opportunities were few and far between.
One positive Lilly took from the night was having sophomore Cameron Hinton back on the pitch. Hinton went down with an ankle injury in the Tiger Cubs' previous game against Cascade. Lilly liked how Hinton returned and praised the effort he gave.
In addition to Hinton's ankle, a sore knee in the second half hobbled midfielder Sedrick Weinschenk. Lilly said he had half a dozen players nursing some type of an injury, but that's just part of the game at this stage of the season.
Saturday's game marked the final time seniors Nike Tharp, Sam Sloan and Josh Mills would don a Greencastle uniform. They served as leaders for a team that was young and took some lumps, but a squad Lilly believes can mature into a solid team.
"This freshmen class had got the potential of being really good," Lilly said. "They've got numbers, not all of the guys got varsity playing time, but next year or the year after, some of the other guys are going to get a little bit better skilled. So if they stay together as a unit with the numbers they have, we'll be back more like we were when we had 10, 11 or 12 seniors. It makes a big difference in this league. It really does."
Lilly reflected once again how just a few moments of the game, if they would have went just slightly different, could have resulted in a much different outcome.
"It's a funny game," Lilly said smiling. "We defend that restart and it's zero-zero. Justin's shot goes in and we're up 1-0 and maybe they don't get the one to win it. It was a close game. It was closer than 2-0 and we had plenty of good chances -- more than I thought we were going to get against them coming in."
At Bethesda Christian
Class 1 Sectional Championship
Greencastle 0 0 -- 0
Tri-West 1 1 -- 2
TW -- Degolyer
TW -- McGrath