Wabash stuffs Tigers, 1-0
by Brian Parsons
GREENCASTLE, IND. Wabash College goalkeeper Graham Bailey was hot. Literally. The freshman, dressed in all-black, attracted heat from DePauw forwards and fans.
Bailey stopped all 20 shots he faced from the Tiger offense, preserving a 1-0 shutout victory and pushing the Little Giants record to 2-4. But Bailey doesn't remember 19 of those saves, there was only one in his mind. The save on the penalty kick from senior midfielder Craig Myers in the 26th minute.
Sophomore striker J.R. Foster worked his way into the box and was going one-on-one with a Wabash defender before being pushed down off the ball, earning the penalty kick.
The Tigers decided that Myers would take the shot, he placed it, waited for a minute, and then took his shot into the right side of the goal. This is where Bailey made his mark and made the save. The rebound came back to Myers but Bailey nabbed that one as well.
"Some of its luck," Bailey said afterwards. "But I took a look at his knee and could see where he had it pointed. So at the last second I saw where he was pointing and knew he was going right."
Myers doesn't buy into that theory.
"As a shooter you're taught to pick out one side of the net in practice and aim for that side. If I put a hit on the ball I should get it. I just didn't get anything on it."
That was the emotional lift the Tigers didn't want to give Wabash. The Little Giants took that break and used it to fuel its own offensive momentum. With three minutes left in the half, Wabash scored off a corner, because a DePauw player left his man. The ball went off of Wabash freshman Carlos Aguirre's head and past Lux into the net. The first goal Lux has given up, after three straight shutouts. It was the Little Giants' first shot on goal.
A once loud DePauw crowd now fell silent, while roars went up among the Wabash fans at the game. The Tigers never really mounted a strong offensive surge in the second half, ending the game with a wishful free kick from midfield with three seconds left.
The game dropped the Tigers to 3-1 on the season, and Coach Page Cotton speechless. He huddled his players on the sideline and stared at each and every one of them for a few minutes. He said he was disappointed with the overall play of the team.
"As a team, we just weren't ready mentally and physically to play, You count on the older players to pick up the younger players and that wasn't the case today," Cotton said. "The score doesn't disappoint me, what disappoints me is that we should have played better."
Coach Cotton said he wanted each player to look at themselves and figure out what they need to do to improve. That includes two of his seniors, Myers and Justin Wallace.
"Myers is a central piece of our team and I don't think his performance today was like the first three games," Cotton said. "[Wallace] got the ball and held it too long, letting their defense get back."
A dejected Myers agreed with Coach Cotton's statements after the game.
"We're their biggest game of the year and matching that intensity they had isn't easy," Myers said. "We were in front of their net a lot and couldn't score. I guess we should go for quality instead of quantity."
There were definitely opportunities. Junior Ryan Winkler had three opportunities early in the second half and couldn't get a shot off on any chance. Wallace sent several good through balls to the forwards, but they couldn't connect.
Foster had a great chance in the 71st minute but his loose ball was high. The play was indicative of the frantic pace in the second half. Cotton placed three attackers up front to try and get more opportunities on goal but the lack of ball movement limited good chances.
Coach Cotton hopes to see a much improved team show up this weekend when the Tigers travel to Ohio to play the Div. III national champion and topped-ranked Ohio Wesleyan. The Tigers beat Wesleyan 4-0 in the regular season last year.