Cougars storm into title match

For the Daily Journal

It was going to take a well-played soccer game to beat Class A No. 5 Oldenburg Academy.

No. 12 Greenwood Christian Academy delivered on and earned a 3-1 victory in the Class A sectional semifinal Wednesday night at Indianapolis Lutheran.

The Cougars (13-4-1) will play against Hauser in the 2 p.m. final Saturday.

“You don’t see that many goals in one game, but we really had three great goals. Both our teams are pretty even. It’s going to come down to a couple of lucky breaks and couple of good shots on goal,” Greenwood Christian coach George Huizinga said.

“I’m proud of our kids because two out of three of our goals were won in the air. When you get goals off headers, it takes a lot of heart to do that.”

The Cougars took a 1-0 lead into halftime after George Apgar’s header goal. Senior Gerrit Huizinga, one of the coach’s two sons on the team, scored with 29:07 left in the second half to make it 2-0. That goal proved to be the game-winner.

“It was a rocket, a classy, classy goal,” Huizinga said. “He hit it hard. I’m very proud of him. There are not too many keepers out there that would be able to stop that one.”

Less than three minutes later, Oldenburg’s Matthew Zinser scored on a penalty kick. Cougars goalkeeper Gabe Vessely had saved the first penalty kick, but it had to be replayed.

“We had a guy that extended his arm and push the guy in the box,” George Huizinga said. “Anytime you extend your arms out and push the opponent, it’s a foul. (Vessely) made a great save but came off the line a little bit before the ball was struck so they and to replay the penalty kick. It was the correct call by the refs.”

Cougars junior Jack Kovacs helped seal it, scoring a header goal off a Griffin Huizinga cross with 4:02 to go.

George Huizinga said Vessely’s play in goal was crucial.

“He pretty much had a shutout if you don’t count the penalty kick,” the coach said. “He’s been strong. His decision-making has been better. Our defense has not let up a lot of goals this year, so they played very well.”

Vessely said the defense covered for each other.

“One ball would get to the outside and one guy would go pressure,” he said. “We had each other’s backs, as coach taught us a lot about. I think having that mindset helped because they and a lot of great guys who could shoot the box and put one on. But we kept them from that.”

Despite being a heavy favorite against the Jets, the Cougars aren’t getting ahead of themselves heading into Saturday’s championship.

“We still got one more game to play,” Vessely said. “We just have to play our best and show we are the best here.”

Author photo
Mark Ambrogi is a sports correspondent for the Daily Journal.