Owensboro High School prevailed at Eagle Field Thursday evening over host Apollo to earn a 1-0 victory.
Andrew Saltsman found the back of the net off a pass from Paxton Jenkins midway through the first half. The goal was Saltsman’s fifth of the season, and the assist was Jenkins’ first. Goalkeeper Radley Worth ensured that Saltsman’s goal was the game winner.
Play teetered in favor of either team throughout the match, but it was the Red Devils who looked truer to form.
“Our game plan was to keep possession,” said OHS head coach Ryan Haley. “When you possess the ball, you break a team down; you take away their hope.”
Owensboro maintained possession for the majority of the first half. Although Apollo was able to put a few shots on goal in the first half, Owensboro outplayed them.
The beginning of the second half appeared to be the first 40 minutes version 2.0, but Apollo was able to start putting its game together as the half waned. The Eagles created multiple scoring opportunities in the final twenty minutes, but the Red Devils met the late charge with solid defense and a couple moments of brilliance from Worth.
Late in the game, a shot rifled toward the goal aimed to sneak just under the crossbar, but Worth was able to play the strike impeccably and tip the would-be equalizer away from harm.
“A lot of credit has to be given to Radley,” Haley said. “Goalkeepers are often neglected in practices – it’s tough when you’ve got so many guys out there at practice and so few coaches.”
One thing was evident, the Red Devils coaching staff have prepped their guys well. Worth’s late-game save was just one of a few moments of excellence for the junior keeper en route to his sixth shutout of the adolescent season – it came during the team’s ninth game of the season.
Worth’s play was not the only one to be commended for the night. Owensboro was without three of its starters. Freshman Josh Head and seniors Austin Sovar and Zane West did not play for the Red Devils due to injury. Moreover, Paxton Jenkins left the game with nearly 20 minutes to go, also due to injury.
“We made up for it with our young guys,” Haley said of his team’s overall performance. “We can move everyone around. There’s a lot of interchangeable pieces to the puzzle on this team. They work hard every day. These guys deserve a lot of credit.”
Owensboro’s versatility and depth were apparent as the Red Devils were able to flip a 1-0 loss three weeks ago to a 1-0 win despite being down three starters.
Apollo coach Ryan Poirier agreed with Haley on Owensboro’s play.
“They deserve credit,” he said. “They played well. They were able to possess the ball more than we were. We were okay with that as long as it wasn’t in dangerous positions. But they definitely possessed the ball more than we did.”
Despite the outcome and Owensboro’s ability to successfully rely on younger guys to step up, Apollo did not go quietly. The last 20 minutes of the game saw a push from the Eagles that was rarely seen in the first half. Apollo created dangerous scoring opportunities but was unable to convert; meanwhile, Owensboro countered for a few very near misses themselves.
In the end, however, the Red Devils were able to hold the one-goal lead and earn the district win. Owensboro’s win pushes their season record to 6-2-1 with a 2-2 record in district play. They will next face Glasgow (6-2) on the road Saturday evening. Closer to home, the Red Devils will face off against the Panthers of Daviess County (10-0-1 and 4-0) Thursday at Panther Field with district seeding still very much in question.
Apollo’s next district match is also Thursday, but against Owensboro Catholic (3-5, 0-4). Before they return to district play, the Eagles will travel to Hopkinsville for the Boots and Butts Soccer Classic at the Stadium of Champions. The home loss pushes Apollo’s season record to 4-4 and its district record to 2-2.
Goals: Andrew Saltsman (5)
Assists: Paxton Jenkins (1)
Saves: John Zuberer (12); Radley Worth (6)
Shutouts: Radley Worth (6)