ST. JOHN | It’s rare to see buzzer-beating scoring attempts in a soccer match, but Lake Central’s Josh Crague got an opportunity Wednesday night.
However, Crague’s shot attempt bounced off the left goal post and out of harm’s way just as time expired, putting the cap on a 1-0 victory for Times No. 3 Valparaiso in what was a game of several missed scoring opportunities for both teams.
“We’ve played a lot of tough ones against Valpo,” Lake Central coach Jereme Rainwater said. “You talk about moral victories and you keep on coming in. The guys know that we were inches away (from scoring). We had opportunities in the second half, and we created a few for ourselves. I thought our attack was good.”
Luke Kovar scored the only goal of the game for the Vikings (11-1, 5-1 DAC) less than eight minutes into the match off a feed from Thomas Walsh. Kovar provided offense to a Valparaiso team that’s banged up, with its two leading scorers in John Christodoulakis (hamstring) and Yamen Atassi (broken arm) sidelined with injuries.
“I had to juggle my lineup, and different kids are stepping up,” Valparaiso coach Danny Jeftich said. “We’re still a solid team, but now the chemistry is a little different. You’ve got new guys coming up and stepping up, and it changes the rhythm of our play.”
With the injuries, Kovar knows he needs to step up and provide an offensive spark to the Vikings.
“I feel like I’ve stepped up pretty well,” he said. “I give all the credit to my teammates. We’ve really had from the bench step up and fill roles. We couldn’t do it without them.”
The last time that Valparaiso beat Lake Central in St. John was 2004, the same year that the Vikings won the state title.
Lake Central (4-9, 2-4) got six saves from goalkeeper Joey Majchrowicz, and the defense kept the Indians in the game.
Rainwater was proud of his players for the solid effort.
“You take it to the last second and create and opportunity to win,” said Rainwater, repeating his post-game speech to his team. “It just didn’t happen for you tonight. You have two choices at this point. You can either stand up and fight, or put your head down and think about the loss. That’s not the kind of character Lake Central soccer has been about, and I don't expect it from these guys.”