It often takes a near-perfect game to defeat a ranked team in any sport.
The Winfield High School boys soccer team played about as well as anyone has played Class 4-3-2-1A No. 4-ranked Augusta in AV-CTL D-III-IV action Thursday afternoon on the pitch at Richard L. Jantz Stadium, but the visiting Orioles escaped with a 3-2 victory.
The Orioles (11-1, 5-0 AV-CTL D-III-IV) sit in first place in the 4-3-2-1A West Regional standings, 2 1/2 games ahead of second-place Wichita Trinity. Augusta entered the game having outscored the opposition 33-1 in the past five games and have won 10 straight.
“We are never happy with moral victories. Last time we played them we lost 8-4,” WHS coach Charles Osen said. “We have improved a great deal in a month and our effort was outstanding. But Augusta is a really talented team and they don’t make it easy. I thought they did a nice job shutting down Kyan (Towles) at his striker position. Every time we sent a ball to him, I could hear their bench shouting ‘body, body.’ They did a great job in making it difficult for Kyan to get a clean run.”
Bradin Dennett put Augusta on the board eight minutes in with a shot from about 25 yards away that found its way over the head of Winfield keeper Jackson Palmer.
Winfield tied it just a minute later when Zach Hammar sent a direct kick into the net from about 20 yards away.
It stayed that way through halftime, despite the Orioles controlling the ball much of the first half.
Connor Inlow put the Orioles ahead for good on a penalty kick three minutes into the second half. Payton Ball added an important insurance goal midway through the half to make it 3-1.
Winfield senior Julien Washington smoked a shot past Augusta keeper Peyton Carselowey off a feed from Hammar with 12:02 remaining to make it a one-score game. The Vikings continued to press, but could not get past the Augusta defense.
“I know Jackson was disappointed in himself in their first goal, but he rebounded and made some tremendous saves,” Osen said. “Augusta makes such good runs and they are so in sync; Jackson had constant pressure, but he responded the way I thought he would. Our back line did a great job all night as well. I thought Trey Thiel at center back communicated and played as well as has all season.”
The Vikings (7-5, 3-2) are in ninth place in the region, one game behind Rose Hill. They travel to Towanda on Tuesday to take on Circle. The Thunderbirds (1-8, 1-4) were idle Thursday.
Augusta 3, Winfield 2
Augusta 1 2 — 3
Winfield 1 1 — 2
A — Bradin Dennett (unassisted), 7:53.
W — Zach Hammar (direct Kick), 6:54.
A — Connor Inlow (penalty kick), 37:00.
A — Payton Ball (unassisted), 20:29.
W — Julien Washington (Hammar), 12:02.
Goalkeepers — Augusta, Peyton Carselowey (1 save). Winfield, Jackson Palmer (8 saves). Total Shots — Augusta 22, Winfield 5. Corner Kicks — Augusta 7, Winfield 3. Fouls — Augusta 9, Winfield 10.