Wapakoneta Redskins junior Noah Lee (14), center, attempts to stop a Bluffton Pirates ballhandler Tuesday in a non-league varsity boys soccer contest at Ryan Field. Wapak won 6-5 on a goal with six minutes left in the game. (Staff photo/William Laney)
The Wapakoneta Redskins found the “Will” to win on Tuesday.
At Ryan Field, the Wapakoneta Redskins varsity soccer team found the desire to continue on the attack against the Bluffton Pirates and then literally found Redskin junior Will Hinegardner with a pass in front of the Pirates’ net for the winning goal with 6:17 left for a 6-5 win.
Trailing Bluffton, 5-4, with 13:08 left in the game and drained of energy, the Redskins looked destined to lose their first game of the season. Instead, the Redskins found new life when they tied the game less than two minutes later on a shot from the right side by Redskin junior Sam Hinegardner at the 11:26 mark and they won on a kick by Will Hinegardner against one of the better soccer programs in the area.
The win lifted the Redskins to 5-0 on the season.
“This has to be the wildest game in my short career of coaching,” Redskin varsity coach Keith Rambin said as he walked off Ryan Field still smiling. “We won that because of resilience. We just never gave up.
“There were times we did not secure the ball in the middle like we should have and we turned the ball over which made for an easy transition,” he said. “Credit Bluffton when they had the opportunity to score; they capitalized on it — what a well-fought game.”
Bluffton varsity coach Dave Fett was still shaking his head in disbelief after the game which included 11 points in a see-saw affair.
“It was a good game,” Fett said, sharing they didn’t scout the Redskins or now what they were capable of in the game. “They ran a lot of overlap runs, which they did a great job of doing. They are very athletic and very fast, we just couldn’t keep up with their speed and only until the last few minutes of the last part the game did we adjust defensively.
“They also beat us tactically,” he said. “We were able to score goals against them and if we would have done a better job tactically answering the way they attacked then we probably could have been successful against them.”
The first half proved to be far different than the second — the first 40 minutes were a low-scoring affair.
Wapak’s Sam Hinegardner, who had a hat trick on the night, opened the scoring with a goal with 22:35 on the clock. Junior Cody Benny was credited with the assist.
The Pirates answered with a header by Adam Basinger past goalkeeper Kaleb Miller to knot the score at 1-1 with 15:07 left.
Sam Hinegardner put the Redskins back on top as they entered the locker room at halftime with a penalty kick past goalkeeper Joseph Schriner at the 1:47 mark.
In the second half, the teams started to trade goals.
After the Pirates tied the score at 2-2 on a penalty kick, Redskin freshman Alex Lause found the back of the net at 25:46 to give Wapak the lead again. Senior A.J. Wahlie assisted on the score.
Bluffton came right back and with two scores in just over two minutes hitting at 18:33 and 16:31 to take a 4-3 lead.
Lause and Wahlie teamed up again at 14:01 to knot the score again before the Pirates’ Stephen Tatarkov scored on an assist from Andrew Demelweek.
The game then ended with the heroics by the Hinegardner brothers in the last minutes of the game.
For the game, Wapak’s Kaleb Miller had 11 saves, while Schriner had four saves.
Fett could not explain the explosiveness in the second half.
“We didn’t change the way we played and I didn’t tell the guys anything different at halftime,” Fett said. “We did tell them to possess the ball a little bit longer because they weren’t pressuring us and we had a little more success passing it.
“They just seemed to do the same thing that worked for them before and they were simply faster than us,” he said. “Looking back, we just did not play them right the second half.”
Rambin said he felt the team with the momentum gained the edge and with as exciting as the game was he was glad it didn’t continue for another two minutes.
“We kept switching up our formations and trying to counter them as quickly as could,” Rambin said. “We would go with four forwards, then with two and then back to three and we were trying to catch them off balance.
“It just became a war of attrition and my guys just never gave up,” he said. “They could have when they got down — we have never been down all year. There was a little bit of everything tonight — it was back and forth. The momentum continued to change — I am just glad there were not two minutes left in the game because I could not have taken another minute.”
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