Tipton — TIPTON — Crawfordsville’s boys soccer team has made its way with defense this season. The Athenians are a tight, dogged defensive unit, all across the field.
Almost all across the field.
The Athenians scored a 1-0 victory over Northwestern Thursday night in the opening round of the Class A Tipton Regional with a great defensive performance and one moment of offensive magic just four minutes before halftime.
Crawfordsville’s Jose Cortez fed a nice ball from central midfield up to slicing forward Ricky Vega, who peeled clear of his defender and poked a goal past charging Northwestern goalie Nathan Daanen for the game’s only score.
“[Vega] came up to me, he’s actually a sub, he doesn’t play much, he says ‘do I have to play defense?’” Crawfordsville coach Dan Durrwatcher said, noting that he’s still trying to instill a defensive mindset into all the players. “I said ‘Ricky, you score a goal, you don’t have to do it, you don’t have to do anything else.’ He said ‘OK.’”
The Athenians made that goal stand up, ending Northwestern’s season.
“They’ve had quite a few shutout games and I can see why,” NW coach Jim Wagner said. “They have big, fast defenders, their goalie made a couple of really nice saves where I thought we’d finally cracked the scoring column. We were dribbling in and getting the ball where we wanted it to be, but we couldn’t get that next pass in for the shot.
“That was what was frustrating the guys. We took a couple of bad shots at times because we got frustrated. Credit to [Crawfordsville] for making it really difficult to get those clean shots.”
Crawfordsville (13-6) has only given up eight goals all season and has now posted 13 shutouts. The Athenians expertly prevented Northwestern from passing into attackers with space to shoot, got in passing lanes and forced the Tigers to try and dribble in.