The defense for the New Castle High School boys soccer team this season has been very good, and now its offense is starting to come around.
The Trojans hosted Anderson Tuesday for Senior Night at Neal Field and tallied three second-half goals to shut out the visiting Indians 3-0.
New Castle improved to 3-9-2 for the 2021 campaign while Anderson still is looking for its initial victory and dropped to 0-10.
“It’s always nice to get a win in your final home game on Senior Night,” New Castle Head Coach Tyron Rainer remarked afterward. “It’s also nice to get a shutout, and we’ve had a habit of posting those in our recent games. We hope that streak continues.”
Before the game, the Trojans honored 12th-graders Tony Yousak, Keegan Scheck, Zack Padgett, Gabe Kitchell, Merrick Lawson, Ian Thurlow, Gabriel Massici, and Isaac French, and all started the contest against the Indians.
Not a lot happened offensively for either team during the first half as the defenses dominated the action.
The numbers for some of the Anderson players did not match up with what was on the printed program. The Indians’ No. 10 took a shot from long range that New Castle sophomore goal keeper Andrew Christman scooped up at the 25:01 mark of the opening half.
Kitchell had an attempt that was stopped by the Indian goal keeper with 6:39 left in the first half, and Trojan junior Jaykwan Guerrero had a shot near the goal that the Anderson keeper corralled 2:31 before intermission.
The Indians were the aggressors early in the second half, as Christman recorded a save of an Anderson attempt 57 seconds into the period.
Christman made another save at the 36:04 mark, and then the Trojans started to take more control offensively.
New Castle almost scored at the 31:05 mark of the second half, but Yousak’s shot went just wide left. Guerrero had an attempt from a distance that went astray with 23:19 remaining.
Finally, with 21:29 left in the contest, Thurlow gained control of the ball in a scrum near the Indian goal after a Yousak corner kick and booted the ball into the net for a 1-0 Trojan lead.
“Man, it feels great to get a win on our home field on Senior Night,” Thurlow said after the game. “I want to thank our underclassmen for playing hard with maximum effort so we seniors could get this win. That proves the strength this team has. We never feel we’ll lose a sectional game, we lost to a couple for those teams by a goal during the regular season, we got a good draw, and we’re already excited about next week.”
Thurlow had a couple other shot attempts over the next four minutes of play, but they failed to tickle twine.
Anderson attempted to tie the game, and a shot by Ryan Villanueva from about 25 yards away sailed over the goal at the 12:57 mark. The Indians’ No. 10 had an attempt again at the 8:20 mark, but it was stifled by the New Castle defense.
An injury timeout was called with 6:12 left after Scheck got knocked down to the turf hard and no penalty was called. Scheck eventually got up and walked off the field under his own power.
Christman made a save of shot attempted by the Indians’ Cristyan Santiago with 4:36 remaining.
The Trojans then got a pair of goals by Guerrero in the waning minutes of the game to ensure the victory. The first one came at the 3:47 mark, and the second came off a nice pass and assist from Kitchell with 1:16 left.
The final 76 seconds drained off the scoreboard clock, and New Castle celebrated its third win in its final game at Neal Field this season.
Christman was credited with four saves. Some credit for the shutout goes to the defensive play by French and sophomore Isaac Madden.
The Trojans end the regular season tonight with a HHC game at Greenfield-Central, and begin IHSAA tournament play Monday evening against Blackford in the opening game of Class 2A Sectional 24 at Yorktown.
“We feel that our record is not indicative of what type of team we are,” Rainer added. “Our defense has played well all season, and if we can get our offense going a little earlier in the game, we’ll be fine. Our guys are capable of winning our sectional if we do that.”