By: Joe Blystone
METAMORA (September 28, 2023) – In the last six years, Ottawa Hills has been the king of Division III soccer in the region, making the state Final Four four times and the Elite 8 one more.
Six years ago, the Evergreen Vikings played their first varsity soccer game.
After an emotional win over Archbold less than 48 hours before, Evergreen had to take on the big boys on the block without the leading scorer in the area in Riley Dunbar, three-year starter Alex Fritsch and had four-year starter Brady Kanneman leave the field with an injury.
What happened after is that coach Dave Skoczyn’s youthful program got high level performances from a number of JV players, and a big night from freshman goalie Alex Mossing to gut out a 0-0 tie against the Green Bears.
“I think we had some good looks at the goal,” Skoczyn expressed after the match. “Maybe we got a little too quick sometimes or that final piece wasn’t there because of moving people around.”
“You can see how much Nick (Rosinski) wants to play up, but he was the first guy to put his hand up to play d-middle when we found out Alex couldn’t play. You want people to step up like that. We really hung in there with our young guys, it was gritty.”
The Vikings had some chances between 26 to 22 minutes left in the first half except for the fact that Ottawa Hills (6-4-3) goalie Julian Jaume turned away every attempt.
Tyson Woodring’s header off Cory Kanneman’s corner with just under 26 left went just wide, then Jaume stopped Gavin Raby’s header two minutes later and made a leaping save on another corner from Cory Kanneman to keep Evergreen (12-1-1) off the board.
Mossing was just as effective at the opposite end, especially in the second half as three times the freshman stopper came out of the net and beat an Ottawa Hills attacker to an upfield pass to clear the ball.
“He played a little nervous than usual, but he maybe should be for a game of this magnitude,” Skoczyn said of the freshman. “He was a little tentative in the first, but boy did he step up in the second half.”
“He just absolutely killed it. Good on him, he is a game changer and tonight he was again a game saver.”
Mossing had six saves on the night as well. Evergreen had two more chances in the last 20 minutes.
Evan Grasser, one of the afore mentioned JV players that played big minutes in the game, stripped a Green Bear of the rock at the right sideline and went solo down the sideline.
However, Grasser never got an angle as a Green Bear defender cut him off when he got in range and his shot was corralled by Jaume.
With under five minutes left Brodie Setmire got a steal on the left sideline but couldn’t get a clean shot with an Ottawa Hills defender riding him and Jaume made the save. The Ottawa Hills goalkeeper registered 10 saves.
With injury and illness making the Viking sideline looking like a night at the local ER, Skoczyn found a large positive in the play of Grasser, Jayden Harmon, Blake Fisher, Breydan Hoffman, and Sean Rafferty, who usually play at the JV level.
“You need numbers, you are going to need numbers throughout the year because you know something may happen at some point in time, you don’t expect it all at once, but you know it will happen,” Skoczyn explained. “Those kids were resilient; they did what they had to do.”
Evergreen hosts Swanton Thursday, October 5th with a win in that contest cementing at worst, a share of a league title for the Vikings.
Joe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org