ADA — Bluffton kept swarming the Ada goal in hopes of sending one to the back of the net.
Finally, just before the end of the first half, it happened.
Bluffton’s Luke Young scored with eight seconds left in the first half to help the Pirates post a 2-0 boys soccer victory over Ada on Tuesday at War Memorial Park.
The victory puts Bluffton (7-2-1) in first place in the Northwest Conference at 3-0 (nine points). Ada is 7-3, 2-1 in the NWC (six points).
Bluffton clearly controlled the first half, including the time of possession with the ball, but had nothing to show for it.
That’s until Bluffton’s Noah Fredritz took the ball into the right corner and crossed it into the box. The ball landed near Jesse Montell and Luke Young.
The first Bluffton shot was saved by Ada goalkeeper Ace Gamble, but he couldn’t control it.
Young pounded the rebound home with eight seconds left in the half.
That gave the Pirates the 1-0 lead.
“That was a weight off our shoulders,” Bluffton coach Steve Smucker said. “We had to be persistent. We knew it was going to be really tight game. Their counter attacks were really dangerous. Then, we finished our chances and they didn’t.’’
Ada coach Jason Okuly said, “We didn’t get everybody marked up like we needed to. … Give it to them. They hustled a little bit more than we did. I think that was the big difference in the game.’’
Bluffton’s second goal came on Tayton Kleman’s shot after dribbling in from the right corner of the box. He got one-one-one from the goal keeper and fired from 12-yards out.
Again, Gamble made the save, but the ball ended up back on Kleman’s foot. Kleman drilled home the rebound and it was 2-0, Pirates, with 4:46 to play.
Bluffton outshot Ada 18-2, including 10-2 in the first half.
“I was pleased with the shutout, but I didn’t think it was our best effort (defensively), but it was OK,” Smucker said.
Bluffton had the corner-kick advantage, 12-1.
Bluffton goalkeeper Dakoda Clymer made one save. Gamble had nine saves for Ada.
In the first half, Ada continually went for the long-ball breakaway, but was called for offsides six times.
However, there was one time in the first half that Logan Williams did haul in a long pass and was one-on-one with Clymer. His shot was just off target.
Ada played more of a short-passing game in the second half, but couldn’t penetrate the back line of Bluffton.
Bluffton’s pair of center defenders Zach Basinger and Matt Daws continually stopped the offensive surge without a shot.
“Their long balls put us on our heels a lot,” Basinger said. “So we had to adjust our game plan to it. We had to mark those guys who are the quick ones up top.’’
Bluffton reached the regional semifinals last year, but six of the eight all-NWC players are gone. The lone returning all-conference players are midfielder Tristan Smucker (first team) and Young (honorable mention).
“We’ll find out (where we are) on Thursday. We have O-G (Ottawa-Glandorf),” coach Smucker said. “We feel good about where we’re at, but we still have things we want to improve. I think we are better than last year in how we attack. I think in the back we still have some work to do to be where we need to be to win the district.’’
Added Basinger, “It’s a good team and there’s a good dynamic in it.’’
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.