GREENCASTLE — In what was a hard-fought and physical regional championship boys’ soccer match between Tri-West and Speedway on Saturday, the Bruins fell just short of advancing into the semistate.
Speedway scored two goals in the first half and held on for a 2-1 victory.
“The guys rebounded and in the second half, we outplayed and outscored them,” Tri-West coach Jeff Denny said. “We know we can always come back. We’re a good team. We are a team together.”
Speedway’s first goal came on an assist from Tri-West as a long free kick by Blake Arevalos ricocheted off a Bruins defender and took a funny angle past senior keeper Matt Buckner for a 1-0 advantage less than 10 minutes into the contest.
Speedway had another opportunity with 22:50 left as the Sparkplugs sent a shot past Buckner and a Tri-West defender headed it out of the way. Speedway coach Pedro Anderson thought the ball had crossed the goal line.
“We’re used to all those kind of calls,” he said. “I told my team they can’t worry about that as we are humans and there are three refs and they have to make a decision. We have to keep playing.”
Michael Tudor took the ball across the box and sent a shot past Buckner for Speedway’s second goal with 6:43 left in the half.
The Sparkplugs also had a chance for another goal as a Bruins defender fouled a Speedway player in the box, resulting in a penalty kick. Buckner stopped Tudor’s shot and the Bruins went to the half down 2-0.
Tri-West came out of the break with renewed energy and tried to climb back into the match. Denny also made a switch at goal, bringing in sophomore Lucas Rutherford.
“Those guys have been cornerstones of our keeper position,” Denny said. “They are both great kids.”
Rutherford would leave the game after an injury and Buckner finished out the match.
Tri-West’s persistence paid off as Nick Carlson slid a shot past Speedway’s Matt Tiffany with 13:17 remaining.
A little over a minute later, Speedway was awarded another PK and this time Tudor sent the ball wide left, keeping the Bruins’ hopes alive.
Despite a furious rally after Carlson’s goal, and constant pressure on the Sparkplugs’ defense, Tri-West was unable to tie the game and force overtime.
Denny was very emotional when speaking about the Bruins’ five seniors, Kyle Kirby, Logan Stroup, Aaron Sorgius, Quinton Thompson and Buckner.
“They meant a lot to the team,” Denny said. “They meant a lot to me because I’ve seen them ever since they were about 12 years old and have been around them all the way through.”