KOUTS | Boone Grove has hung around the middle of The Times Top 10 boys soccer poll most of the season, contending with larger schools for the highest rankings.
On Tuesday night, The Times No. 4 Wolves saw their effort come to fruition as Boone Grove clinched the Porter County Conference title with a 5-2 win at Kouts.
“I want to congratulate (Boone Grove),” Kouts' coach Tim Schwartz said. “They did a great job. They’re so dangerous up top. They are relentless after the ball when it’s in front of the goal and they knocked some goals in because of some hustle plays.
"That’s always great to see -- you’d rather see your team do it, but they really had a nice game.”
Hustle plays were important for the Wolves, especially in the second half when they scored two goals and forced an own goal by Kouts.
“I don’t think we settled down until the second half,” Wolves' coach Brian Sherwin said, adding that his team had trouble adjusting early to a narrower playing field than it is used to seeing. “Kouts gave us a great game; they were constantly on us, fighting hard.
"I have to applaud them for their awesome effort. It will make for an awesome sectional.”
Nick Azevedo led the charge for Boone Grove, scoring in the first half on an assist by Austin Aguilera and in the second half on an assist by Andrew Ooms. Azevedo also assisted a second-half goal by David Ooms.
Boone Grove led 2-1 at halftime after Aguilera scored off a Brad Kaminsky assist and Azevedo scored his first goal. Evan Rodgers opened the scoring for Kouts.
“The first half was great to watch, very pretty. We played a really good first half,” Schwartz said. “We were possessing, we had control of the ball for most of the first half.
"But in the second half, we just kind of lost our shape and our possession and kind of fell back on how we used to play instead of how we’re supposed to play.”
Tanner Bennett scored in the second half for the Mustangs and Cody Nelson made 10 saves in the game, but Boone Grove proved too much for Kouts to handle.
Sherwin believes the Wolves have yet to reach their potential.
“I don’t think we’ve played our best soccer yet,” Sherwin said. “I’m looking at what I can do to bring out the best soccer in these guys.
"This is a great team that I’m working with and I just hope in the next week we start playing our best soccer and take that into sectionals.”