MERRILLVILLE | Crown Point took another step closer to repeating as Class 2A state soccer champions with a 7-3 win over Kankakee Valley on Saturday night, but the result stopped being important midway through the second half.
Kankakee Valley junior forward Tyler Montgomery collapsed to the ground shortly after colliding with Crown Point junior Tod Oram and lost consciousness before being revived on the field.
Montgomery was motionless on the ground for several minutes as trainers, teammates, administrators and family members raced to his side.
“I was jogging back to cover the space and he came up and we ended up head-butting each other,” Oram said. “I started to ask him if he was alright, but then I looked over and saw his eyes start to roll into the back of his head.”
Montgomery lost consciousness while he was still standing and then hit his head a second time when he fell to the ground.
The game was delayed for 21 minutes as an ambulance arrived and Montgomery was carried by a stretcher off the field. The junior was in the ambulance when he started to regain consciousness.
“He started to ask questions about where he was,” Kankakee Valley coach Jason Vanderwoude said. “We’ll visit with him tonight and try to find out everything that we can. Right now our thoughts and prayers are with Tyler.”
The Bulldogs (15-1-3) were leading 5-1 at the time of the stoppage, mostly due to a quick start from Crown Point. Stojan Krsteski found the back of the net in the sixth minute and then Alex Fenn converted a goal in the 13th minute. Carmelo Morales assisted on both goals and then added a score of his own in the 19th minute to give the Bulldogs an early 3-0 lead. Montgomery scored Kankakee Valley’s first goal of the match just before halftime.
“This was uncharacteristic of our team,” Crown Point coach Mike Bazin said. “Normally I have to give a speech about being a second-half team.”
The Bulldogs added two quick goals to start the second half before Montgomery went to the ground. After the delay, both teams were given time to warm up before playing out the final 25 minutes.
“Luckily we were able to get those extra 10 minutes to get loose,” Oram said. “We just had to take advantage on a cold night and get our bodies right again.”
Rhenz Almira and Jacob Smith converted late goals for the Kougars (11-8), a team that said goodbye to 12 seniors after the match.
“We’re a tight-knit group that hangs well together,” Vanderwoude said. “I told the team that Tyler is a huge asset, but that we still had to push on. We lose a core of guys, but we have a lot of young players that are ready to step up in the future.”