Boys soccer: Niners surge after making adjustments
By Michael Osipoff email@example.com or 713-2485 October 24, 2013 12:02AM
Andrean Mike Metlov, left, and Wheeler Danilo Orlich battle for a loose ball during first half action Andrean and Wheeler in the IHSAA 1-A Boys Soccer Regional in Lakeville, Ind. Thursday October 17, 2013. |Joe Raymond ~For Sun-Times Media
Class 1A LaVille Semistate
Schedule: Saturday — Argos (18-3) vs. Fort Wayne Bishop Luers (17-3), 9 a.m.; Andrean (14-7) vs. Guerin Catholic (15-2-3), 11 a.m.; final, 6 p.m.
The skinny: Andrean is pursuing its first semistate title, after winning its first regional since 1996. In fact, Fort Wayne Bishop Luers is the only team among the four that already owns a semistate title, in 1995 (when the Knights won their only other regional title on their way to a state runner-up finish). Guerin Catholic and Argos each is seeking a semistate breakthrough, after each has won three straight regional titles since the advent of the two-class format. For reference, Guerin ended the regular season ranked No. 1 in the state coaches’ poll, Luers No. 2, Andrean tied for No. 6 and Argos No. 9.
Next: Winner vs. Floyd Central Semistate winner in state championship, noon, Nov. 2, Michael A. Carroll Track & Soccer Stadium, IUPUI, Indianapolis
— Michael Osipoff
Updated: November 25, 2013 1:25PM
MERRILLVILLE — Around the middle of the season, for various reasons, things clicked into place for the Andrean boys soccer team.
The 59ers are celebrating their first regional title since 1996, with aspirations to secure more hardware.
The main impetus for their turnaround has been a change in formation, shifting to a five-man defense from four. Jose Angulo, who started the season as a forward, dropped back as a second stopper in tandem with Dan Adair.
When coach Pete Reist made the move after a 2-1 loss at Chesterton on Sept. 16, the 59ers were 4-6. They since have gone 10-1, taking a 14-7 record into their semifinal against Guerin Catholic in Saturday’s Class 1A LaVille Semistate.
Admittedly, Andrean’s schedule down the stretch wasn’t quite as daunting as the front portion. But the results have been dramatic. The 59ers have allowed eight goals in their last 11 games — with five coming in their lone loss, on Sept. 28 at Crown Point, a team Reist described as “on a different level” — and have registered eight shutouts.
“It helped plug up some holes, it shared the responsibility a little bit between the defenders, it let a couple of our guys man-mark the guys on the other team that we needed to and devote more time to them,” Reist said.
“If you stay in your lanes defensively, it works. The discipline has to be there. It took us a couple games to get it, to get everyone to move like they should, but they got the hang of it. That’s the biggest thing we’ve done.”
But not the only thing. Around the same time Andrean altered its alignment, sweeper Aaron Corder (concussion), the team’s leader on defense, and outside back Evan Fogle (ankle/quadriceps), who typically draws the assignment of marking the opponent’s top striker, returned from injury after both had missed games. Also, the 59ers inserted Ted Sinal as their other outside back, solidifying what had been a position of instability.
“Those five really have been key for us,” Reist said of the defenders in front of goalkeeper Chris Orozco.
Earlier in the season, Andrean tweaked its offense, too. Mike Gore switched back to his natural forward spot from center midfield, flip-flopping with Mike Metlov. Gore has 25 goals and 6 assists, and Metlov has responded with 15 assists to match the school record.
“Once the lights went on and I decided to put Michael (Gore) back where he’s most comfortable, it made a difference,” said Reist, also praising the production the 59ers have received from outside midfielders Chase Dawson (12 goals, 5 assists) and Eric Guetzloff (7 goals, 8 assists), and the complement former reserve Lucas Nowesnick has provided to Gore up top.
“We’re used to winning right now, we’ve beaten some pretty fair teams lately. At this point, our kids believe. We’re ready, we think we can win. We’re not driving all the way out there just to have pizza and pop afterwards. We’d like to get on that bus going south — that would be a good finish.”
For the 65-year-old Reist, who is retiring following his 24th season at Andrean after four at Merrillville, as well as the 17 seniors on the 59ers roster.
“It’s been nice for me that the kids have extended it to this point, and it’s great for them,” Reist said. “Every team is different; every team, of course, you love ’em. To be honest, this may not be the most talented team, certainly not the deepest in talent, or skilled team that we’ve had. But it may be the most cohesive. Having 17 seniors, they’re brothers in arms, maybe that has a lot to do with it. There’s something to be said for the chemistry of this group.”