WAPAKONETA — Bluffton boys soccer coach Steve Smucker is hoping his young squad continues to improve as the season progresses.
After Tuesday’s 4-3 victory over Wapakoneta at Harmon Field, Smucker has to be feeling a little more confident.
Bluffton led 4-1 early in the second half. However, Wapakoneta put the pressure on the young Bluffton squad, scoring two goals late in the game, cutting the deficit to one goal.
Wapakoneta’s Luke Beach got a shot on goal in the waning moments of the game; however, Bluffton goalkeeper Dakoda Clymer knocked the shot away to secure the win for the Pirates.
Clymer made five big saves on the night for Bluffton (3-2).
“Dakoda – first-year varsity goalkeeper – he did a spectacular job,” Smucker said. “We were really happy with our performance tonight. It’s by far our best yet. We knew that Wapak always fields a good side. We knew it was going to be a good match. I can’t believe we got this result. We’ve had trouble finishing.”
Bluffton got on the scoreboard early, with goals from Tristan Smucker at the 39:20 mark, and then one on a break-away from Asher Antrim at the 29:30 mark.
Wapakoneta broke the ice, with 2:59 left to play in the half, with a goal inside the box by Kyle Lenhart.
Bluffton went into the halftime break with a 2-1 lead.
Bluffton rode its momentum from the first half with a quick second-half goal from Tayton Kleman on a break-away, giving his team a 3-1 lead.
Then, less than seven minutes later, Antrim recorded his second goal on the night, pushing Bluffton’s lead to 4-1.
However, Wapakoneta (4-2) wasn’t done yet.
A close-range goal from Wapakoneta’s Kaleb Benny at the 12:04 mark, cut the deficit to 4-2.
Then with a little more than four minutes left to play, Beach drove a shot past Clymer, cutting the deficit to one goal.
Clymer denied Beach a little later, on a great look inside the box by the junior.
For the game, both teams got eight shots on goal. Wapakoneta goalkeeper Ross Burkart had two saves on the night.
“We threw a lot of energy at them,” Coach Smucker said. “We were fortunate that we were able to ride that out, apart with about five or ten minutes of the second half. We have a very young group, and they are learning on the fly as we go. We’re happy at where we are at, but we need to get better. We didn’t get many chances (on shots), but we did the best with what we got. So, I was pleased with that.”