Tuesday evening offered another chance for Greenwood Christian to secure its place among the top small-school teams in Indiana boys soccer. If going to the Class A state championship match last season, or this season’s upset win over defending champ Park Tudor, weren’t a clear enough indicator of their ability to win, then perhaps the eighth-ranked Cougars’ 2-1 home win over Class 3A foe Whiteland — their seventh consecutive victory — was.
GCA (8-2) struck first. The Cougars got a shot on frame 33 seconds in, when freshman center back Caleb Amador cleared a ball upfield that snuck through Whiteland’s back line and left junior striker Caden Camden with a one-on-one against Warrior goalkeeper Jake Witherington. Camden’s shot missed wide off the left side of the frame.
Just two and a half minutes later, sophomore winger Andrew Ramlian crossed the ball into the box and through Bean’s hands, and it was tapped in by a Whiteland defender for an own goal, giving GCA a 1-0 lead.
“We came out and had a really good first half,” Cougars coach Steve Campbell said. “I told them last week that I could see that they’re trusting each other because they’re believing in themselves. I want to see us come out every half the way we did in the first half.”
Whiteland (2-8-2) had one realistic goal scoring opportunity in the first half. Senior winger J.D. Lompo dribbled down the left midfield and sent three defenders sliding with a fake-shot on his right foot, before switching it back to his left and missing the frame wide around the nine-minute mark. The Warriors failed to control possession in their own 18-yard box the rest of the half.
Ramlian had another opportunity to contribute to a goal when he sent in a cross that was one-time touched and laid off by Camden, but sophomore Trey Dobson missed the one-time hit by inches over the crossbar.
The final nail in the coffin before the halftime whistle came when a stumbling Camden received a cross and hit the ball into the ground and over the Whiteland keeper for the second and final goal of the half, giving the Cougars a comfortable 2-0 lead.
“Confidence has really grown,” Campbell said. “I told the kids at the very beginning of the season that they have to learn to trust each other, and we’re just about at the halfway mark of that. Their confidence is through the roof.”
The second half, though, was a perfect start for Whiteland. After a successful counterattack just seconds into the half, the Warriors’ corner to follow provided the confidence needed to jumpstart their next possession’s goal.
At the six-minute mark, Austin Cooper had the big throw-in that fumbled around at the top of Whiteland’s box until Lompo asserted his dominance and controlled the ball, then slotted a low-sailing shot into the bottom left corner of the net while falling down.
Although no big scoring opportunities took place after Lompo’s goal for either side, besides a Warrior cross with seconds left in the game that was headed off the crossbar, the Cougars continued to keep the ball for a majority of the second half, and held off the few counterattacks they faced.
“We’re going to give it another shot (going to state),” Campbell said. “Obviously last year was an amazing run; we were overachievers all year long when it came to tournament time. This year is different. We have a pretty good winning record, so we’re going to take that confidence and that hard work to the tournament. We hope to be where we were last year. But we have to take it game by game.”