Early flurry of goals dooms BHS soccer
LOUISBURG — For nearly 60 minutes here Tuesday, the Baldwin High School soccer squad played equal with its opponent, which is among the top teams in the state.
However, those first 20 minutes doomed the Bulldogs.
During that stretch, Louisburg (11-2) scored three early goals to jump out to a quick lead on BHS. That early lead was insurmountable as Baldwin (1-10-1) lost 4-1 to the Wildcats.
“Like I told the kids, we just came out flat and they didn’t do what we asked them to do,” coach Matt McCune said. “When you come to this field, which is so narrow, you have to play a certain way and have that mentality.
“If you take that 15 minutes away, we played better than they did,” he said. “Part of it was we have Shawn (Berndt) gone from the defense. We tried to throw some players in new positions and it took us 15 or 20 minutes to figure out where to put those players.”
Louisburg’s first goal came 30 seconds after the kickoff. The Wildcats took the ball down field with ease. After a throw in, they passed it once and kicked the ball in the corner of the goal. They scored two more minutes later. All three of their goals came in the first 20 minutes of the game.
McCune said Baldwin had to make several changes on defense after sophomore Shawn Berndt left last week’s game at Ottawa with an injury.
“Moving Joel Austin back from stopper to left back helped out a lot,” McCune said. “Then we moved Clint (Chapman) to stopper. Clint is a small guy, but he plays smart. He is still learning that position as well. Once we made those changes, we played great defense.”
Baldwin answered with a goal of its own soon after the third Louisburg goal. The Wildcats’ goalie was running up to pick up a Baldwin kick at the same time sophomore Caleb Michaels was charging the ball.
The goalie fumbled the ball before Michaels was left alone with an open shot on goal. He booted it in, giving Baldwin its first goal of the night.
“Caleb has some confidence right now,” McCune said. “He is able to cut in any direction and he’s seeing the game much better right now. He knows where players are going to be in his mind. That helps us out a lot.”
Both teams played the remaining 15 minutes of the first half and much of the second half evenly. They both had several shots on goal, but neither team scored until Louisburg converted a penalty kick with 10 minutes remaining in the game.
“I was happy with how we played,” McCune said. “They are one of the top teams in the state. They are the top team in the region and we are last and we played them even for two-thirds of the game.”
Last week, Baldwin had a chance to upset an Ottawa team that defeated BHS 6-2 earlier in the season. Baldwin led 1-0 early after Michaels assisted senior Levi Moore on a goal.
The Bulldogs led 1-0 for most of the game, until Berndt went down with an injury. His missing presence in the defense allowed Ottawa to score two goals late in the game and win 2-1.
“Shawn came out and the game changed,” McCune said. “They couldn't beat him.”
The Bulldogs’ coach is confident with how his team is playing. He hopes they are beginning to play their best at the right time of the season, much like they did a year ago.
“That’s kind of my mentality as a coach,” McCune said. “We have so many players out and it’s hard to get everyone on the same page at the beginning. We have a lot of kids that haven’t played together or played very long. We need all the time we can get and it takes a whole season. That’s the whole idea right — to peak at the end of year. We want to peak at the end and I think we’re doing that.”
Baldwin will host Paola today at Baker University’s North Park field. The games begin at 4:30 p.m. with the varsity playing first.