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SYRACUSE – A last-minute change in its lineup and an unlucky bounce cost the Columbia City boys’ soccer team a 1-0 loss to the Wawasee Warriors Wednesday evening.
“One of our varsity starters, the outside midfielder, is sick and in the hospital, and our kids were very concerned about that,” Eagle head coach Chris Bechtold said. “Our kids were focused and were ready to go, and then we had to change the lineup at the last minute when we found out that he wouldn’t be able to play.
“Our focus went from being offensively minded to going defensive. And unfortunately that meant that (Wawasee) spent a great deal of the game in our end of the field.”
Even the change in lineup by itself still didn’t seem to be enough to decide the contest as the Eagle defense fought off the Warriors until a bit of bad luck intervened.
The Warriors broke the scoreless tie at the 27:28 mark of the second half when Wawasee senior Josh Matti took a shot from 40 yards out in front of the Columbia City goal. The ball sailed over the outstretched fingertips of the Columbia City keeper, Nick Hatfield, struck the crossbar and bounced just over the goal line for the contest’s only score.
The Eagles had difficulty generating consistent offensive attacks against a swarming Wawasee defense, trying to feed the ball up the middle to Grant Wood and the Eagles’ leading scorer Devin Rice. Rice drew a crowd whenever he was able to get the ball in the offensive end.
“We have always had that,” Bechtold said. “Devin was our leading scorer last year and is one heck of a scorer. Every team we have played this year has marked him with at least two guys.”
The loss puts the Columbia City record at 4-5, while Wawasee moves to 1-5-4.
The Eagle JV playing in gathering darkness fell 2-1 to the Wawasee reserves. The hosts took a 1-0 lead at 13:07 of the first half, but the Eagles answered less than two minutes later when Zach Kock knocked in the Eagles’ only goal at the 11:35 mark. Wawasee put in the winner off a corner kick that caught the Eagle goal at the far post with 7:51 left in the game.
The Eagles return to action Saturday, traveling to Heritage for a contest with the Patriots.