Post proves to be Warren’s best friend

VINCENT – In soccer, it is said that a tie is comparable to “kissing your sister.”

Warren boys’ soccer coach Andy Pinkerton had something else in mind after the host Warriors (0-0-1) rallied twice to tie rival Marietta High, 2-2, in a season opener Saturday night.

“It seemed like last year, the post wasn’t in our favor,” the Warriors’ boss said. “This year, at least in this game, it helped us out. So, I’ll make sure I’ll kiss the post before I leave.”

Now, that’s funny.

To Marietta head man Todd Morris, it was anything but amusing.

Twice, in the last two minutes of play, the Tigers (0-0-1) hit the post with shots, and came away empty. Not only that, but twice during the match, the orange and black booters had a one-goal lead, but couldn’t protect it.

“We had them beat twice, and couldn’t close it out,” Morris said. “This (tie) feels like a loss.”

While a tie is always better than a loss, Morris is right. The Tigers really did have the “W” all but wrapped up before it unraveled.

Was MHS just unlucky and Warren more fortunate to salvage a draw?

Probably.

But luck is just the nature of sports competition. No question about it, though, it plays a part sometimes.

Backing up a little bit. Early in the second half, shortly after Marietta took a 1-0 lead on freshman Jake Craven’s first varsity goal, Warren’s Zed Strahler lined up for a direct or free kick on the left side of the pitch, just outside of the box. It was a difficult angle, but the Warrior junior beat the MHS defensive wall with his kick and the booted ball caromed off the right post.

The Tigers were lucky on that one – or were they?

Warren sophomore Matt Goodman was johnny-on-the-spot for the rebound, and knew what to do with it. He booted it past Marietta keeper Ian Coleman for the equalizer.

Later, MHS regained the advantage, 2-1, on a textbook goal by senior all-stater Ben Dehmlow, who put the finishing touch on Nathan Westfall’s right-wing cross. Warriors’ keeper Thomas Williams never had a chance.

Both Dehmlow and Williams would figure in at the end, although neither of course knew it at the time.

Meanwhile, Warren came back a second time, and once again Strahler was the man. Shortly after hitting the Marietta wall with a free kick, he got another opportunity, only a little bit closer to the goal.

This time, Strahler didn’t miss, and the match was all knotted up at 2-all with about seven minutes left.

“We conceded two bad goals,” Morris said. “We just need to be better.

“We can’t commit fouls in our defensive third time after time after time. And, that’s what we did.”

But it was Warren that actually committed a critical foul with about two minutes remaining – in the penalty box.

All the Tigers had to do, now, was convert a penalty kick to go up again, and with Dehmlow taking it, who would bet against the senior standout?

Williams did.

At 6-foot-5, Williams – who incidentally is a basketball player at Warren – guessed right when he dove left to bat Dehmlow’s hard shot away.

It was still a live ball, though, and Dehmlow got the rebound and a second chance.

But guess what, Dehmlow’s kick hit the left post.

Warren indeed had dodged not one but two bullets.

There was still a little bit of time left, about a minute-and-a-half, and Marietta got another crack at the goal on a free kick outside of the box. Dehmlow took it, and wouldn’t you know it, his boot caromed off the right post this time

“Me and the post are pretty good friends,” said Williams after the match.

Now, that’s funny, too.

Ron Johnston is a Marietta Times sports writer and can be reached at (740)373-2121, x534, or at rjohnston@mariettatimes.com