By COREY STOLZENBACH
LINCOLN CITY – An unsatisfactory start turned out to be salvageable as Jasper tied Heritage Hills 2-2 on Thursday.
The Wildcats (2-4-2) allowed the Patriots (4-3-2) to score a few goals in the first seven minutes of play. Junior Jose Lara managed to outsmart senior Jasper goaltender Geo De La Rosa in less than 90 seconds at the point of 38:56 of the first half. Junior Ethan Hill added an insurance goal for the Patriots at 33:08.
“Both times we put in a really good effort on free balls, and these guys are really good athletes,” said Pats coach Joe Asbury. “They managed to squeeze in and then get a bit of composure and finish. Obviously that’s a good way to start the game, and I’m proud of the kids to be out and ready to play. within the first five minutes. “
Jasper coach Kyle Kendall noted that the Pats made a few plays down center with some speed on the ball that his Wildcats couldn’t touch. Kendall thought Jasper was in control early on, but Heritage Hills got two counterattacks and transitions.
The Wildcats found their way home, however, and attacked more at the net as the first half progressed. Junior Sam Leonard put them on the board with 24:58 left in the first half to reduce the Pats’ lead to 2-1.
However, second-year Heritage Hills goaltender Aiden Harris held Jasper at bay for the remainder of the half. His saves against Jasper, especially with just over 7:30 a.m. to go, drew a round of applause from the Heritage Hills loyalists who kept the Wildcats from matching him.
“It was a really big game there where they hit hard and he was able to get his hands on it and then he got up and made another attempt,” Asbury said. “He played well. There are times when we want him to be a little more aggressive coming off his line, and for a sophomore in a varsity game here with a lot of intensity, he did. good job.”
Heritage Hills had the opportunity to extend their lead once again in the second half. Lara attempted her second goal of the game on a penalty shot, but her kick went far from the net which kept the score as it was, 2-1.
“He just shot it a little bit,” Asbury said. “He’s going to get there nine out of 10 times, and today wasn’t meant to be, but we’ll put him up there next time we get the chance.”
That left an opening for the Wildcats, who officially put that 2-0 deficit behind them with 6:38 to go when senior Tony Menjivar’s goal tied him and brought the game to its final score.
“As many great looks as we got today, it wasn’t the best look we’ve had, but Tony does a great job of just being in the right place at the right time and making sure he does. a game, ”Kendall said.
Jasper had a chance to win the game as senior Dylan Hopf took a shot with less than a minute to go, but he crossed the Heritage Hills net.
Asbury was proud of how hard his players played and said they would learn from Thursday. He’s looking for the midfielder to improve his defense before the next time the team take the field on September 15 at Evansville Harrison. He wants the Pats to keep their form in midfield when they lose the ball, and the pressure needs to be better.
He added, however, that it’s a tough balance and it’s nobody’s fault. Asbury noted that Heritage Hills had faced injuries this year and was not as important as Jasper on Thursday.
“Ethan and Jose, we congratulate them for scoring those goals early in the game,” he said. “They’re two midfielders, and we have to play that way. We have to have these overlapping guys to create an attack for us, but we also need these guys to play defense in the midfield, and our wings have to continue to follow back and play defense for us in midfield, it’s something we’re going to try to keep working on our balance between the attacking half and the defensive half. “
Kendall noted that the Wildcats need to find a way to win close games, not just the 8-0 performance on August 24 against Evansville Central, or 12-0 against Vincennes Lincoln on Tuesday. He has spoken of the team playing from behind on several occasions this year, including Thursday, and they have to weather the storm early to have time to find their rhythm.
Jasper will have a training day today before returning at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at home against Providence. Kendall said the Wildcats need to keep their cool and stay organized to achieve victory.
“It might be a little movie tomorrow to watch what happened today, to see again, again, a lot of the goals that we gave up during the transition,” Kendall said. “They’ve all been very similar, and we have to find a way to make sure that doesn’t happen.”