Freshman Chip Blood put in the winning shootout goal and a Colts’ defense that had a total of one year experience between four players stymied an explosive Jonesville team, as the Academy (2-0-0) took back the Hillsdale County Soccer Cup trophy from the Comets (1-1-1).
After battling to a 3-all tie it appeared the Comets would repeat as champs when Chad McOscar’s shootout goal gave Jonesville a 2-0 advantage. But Sawyer Moss, Peter Sullivan and Blood all converted on their attempts and Sullivan made a diving stop to his left on a Kyle Flint shot to end the game.
Blood was so amped up to take the final penalty kick that he almost jumped the gun. He started toward the ball to kick it, but teammates and coaches screamed to remind him he had to wait for the whistle to blow.
What ensued was a bullet past the keeper on the ground to the right, a shot that had Colts head coach Neal Brady grinning wide.
“You know…when you see a freshman in such a pressure-packed situation you just hope that it works out so they don’t get discouraged. And last year Nekoda (Cartwright) missed in a similar situation, but he didn’t get discouraged,” Brady said. “I had confidence that Chip had the same confidence and poise. As an eighth-grader he played varsity basketball so I don’t see him as a freshman and the pressure was not too much for that young man.”
The pressure didn’t get to the Cartwright brothers either. Freshmen Bruce and Brent manned either side of the Colts’ defense and despite looking fatigued at times late in the game, they both made clutch play after clutch play.
Bruce had to deal with the Comets’ Caleb Brown, who could slip away at a moments notice, and although Brown had two goals in the game, he could’ve had a final stat line much like his seven points Monday if not for Cartwright’s cool confidence.
“Those Cartwright boys play like they’re seniors, they are freshmen so it’s amazing,” Brady said. “The whole family has ice going through their veins. I’m comfortable playing them back there…it looks like the future is bright for the Hillsdale Academy defense.”
Also stepping up for the Colts was sophomore Chris Potts and Blood, who was moved from forward to defense when senior Ricky Davis was unable to play because of an illness.
“The Potts kid was a pretty tough center defender to get around,” Jonesville head coach Pat Bernklau said. “We probably played the ball to the middle a little too much and I probably should of switched it up to the outside to make some runs, but we’re just making adjustments and its early in the season.”
Early on it looked like the Comets athleticism might be too much for the smaller, younger Colts. Peter Sullivan was caught out of net and Adam Thorp blazed past him for an easy score to make it 1-0 at the 20:37 marker of the first half.
Academy junior Sawyer Moss quickly rose to the occasion though, showing that he went to Germany last year as a soccer player and came back a magician.
At the 18:22 marker he stopped on a dime, made a defender miss and placed a perfect shot from 15 feet out to even the score.
Not four minutes later he faked out two Comets defenders to score yet another goal and at the 8:30 marker of the first half Eric Lisznyai was the recipient of a perfect one-timer pass from Moss as the Colts took a 3-1 lead.
Jonesville wouldn’t go away though and Brown scored on a text-book one-timer from Thorp at 7:10.
The Colts kept the Comets at bay for the majority of the second half, but a debatable tripping call on Bruce Cartwright in the box gave Jonesville life.
Brown netted the penalty kick and a few clanks of the posts and ‘oohs and ahhs’ from the crowd was the majority of the final 13 minutes.
Bernklau said his team pressed to get one more goal late, but they should’ve have played more crisp from the start.
“The Academy did very well and Tim (Sullivan) and Neal always do a good job, so I knew that they always give us a good game. I didn’t come in here thinking we would blow them out, but I figured we would win the game,” he said. “They had good defense though, good shooting and a lot better passing than we did.”
Brady was ecstatic to hold a team like Jonesville in check and he hoped his squad’s confidence would only build from here.
“Jonesville is a tremendous team and they have speed like no other team has in this state. In fact I watched Adam Thorp come in third place in the 100 meter dash at regionals, so I know how fast he is,” he said. “It gives me a lot of pride to see my young guys play so tough against a good team.”