It was the first game of the season, and the Valley Central boys’ soccer team has already experienced a little bit of heartbreak.
Goshen’s Bryan Pinos scored the game-winning goal just 70 seconds into overtime, giving the Gladiators a 1-0 victory over the Vikings on Thursday night at Goshen High School.
“It’s our first game, so what a heartbreaker to open the season with,” Valley Central coach Paul Berkowitz said. “To have that kind of effort and lose, it’s almost a positive that they were that upset over the loss. Goshen is highly technical. They were really organized defensively. It hurts to lose this game, but it was a pretty fun high school game to watch.”
The teams had already played 80 minutes of scoreless soccer to get to overtime, and the game remained scoreless on the effort of the Vikings’ brand-new defense, which includes goalkeeper James Joyce in his first varsity start.
He made nine saves to keep the game scoreless.
“None of those guys have played defense before, so it’s a brand-new defense from the keeper to the backs,” Berkowitz said. “It’s just an outstanding performance by the keeper. It’s an overtime game, sudden death, somebody usually makes a mistake. After 80 minutes, it’s tough not to make a mistake.”
Goshen midfielder Parker Warren passed the ball forward to Pinos, who got through the defense and found himself one-on-one with Joyce, who didn’t have an opportunity to react when Pinos changed direction and put the ball past him.
The defense didn’t break during regulation, despite constant pressure from the Gladiators’ offense.
Goshen’s Bradyn Primus made several runs on goal that were either deflected away by Joyce or kicked wide of the goal.
It showed the Vikings’ new defense they can withstand the pressure.
“We were under siege the whole day; it was like ‘The 300,’” Berkowitz said. “And now they understand they can handle being under siege without losing their minds. They can stay calm in the chaos.”
The Vikings had their best opportunity to score 7 minutes into the game when Dylan Kresge launched a shot toward the crossbar, but Goshen goalkeeper Tyler Kropp was as tall as the goal and caught Kresge’s shot with his fingers.
“That was ridiculous; that’s just unfair,” Berkowitz said. “Any other high school team probably in the state, that was a goal. He just stole it.”
A lot of the wind came out of the Vikings when Pinos’ goal ended the game, but despite the loss, it’s a positive start for the Vikings.
“Overall, it’s a little humbling because I think some of the guys though we were stronger because of some of the scrimmage results,” Berkowitz said. “The second thing, I think it’s a positive step forward. A win is fantastic, but sometimes a loss is the best thing that can happen in a season.”