Despite the Eisenhower Tigers’ ferocious offense, the Goddard Lions took a 1-0 lead in the first half and managed to hold it for the remainder of the game.
In the first half, Goddard started with confidence and poise, attacking the Eisenhower goal with two, major runaway plays. Neither was successful, and the Tigers eventually found their rhythm. Throughout the rest of the first half, the offenses were vying for possession, and the defenses were simply trying to keep up.
“We looked pretty tight at the beginning of the game, because we were pretty nervous to be playing Goddard,” Eisenhower coach Rick Childs said. “Once we got settled down, we started playing better. I think that just indicates that the Goddard game is always going to be important to Eisenhower.”
With 8:30 left in the first half, Goddard scored the game’s only goal on a Cameron Perkins-to-Zach Koch goal that found its way into the left corner of the Eisenhower net.
Eisenhower’s midfielders tried to take back the momentum, storming back down the field to the Goddard goal, but Lion defenders were ever-present and kept the ball out of the Goddard net.
Eisenhower didn’t let up in the second half, either. In fact, the Tigers took up most of the field position and possession time. But, the Goddard defense was just as relentless as the Eisenhower offense was, and junior goalie Landon Babcock continued to make key saves for the Lions.
As the Tiger Nation contingent cheered on its team, Eisenhower tried step up the pace as the minutes started ticking away. With only a one-point deficit, the game could easily be tied and sent into overtime—if only the Tigers could find an opening.
But, despite multiple close calls and open shots that veered a little too far one way or the other, the Tigers could never capitalize on their multiple scoring opportunities.
“We did a lot of things right, as far as our positioning and passing the ball,” Childs said. “But, we were never able to overcome that lead.”
“It was a challenge in the second half, especially when the game came down to the wire,” Goddard goalie Babcock said. “I didn’t get to play against Eisenhower last year, but I was glad I got to be out there tonight.”
As the teams prepare for the final leg of the season, and post-season play, Tuesday night’s special game between friends and neighbors will be a stepping stone for both programs; and it will be only the second of the many rivalry games to come.
Babcock said he knew some of the Eisenhower players from middle school and summer soccer leagues, and was excited to play against them.
Both coaches commented it was peculiar to be playing against each other’s team, as Childs had coached at Goddard from 1986 until 2010, including coaching Rooney during his time as a Goddard player.
“It was weird to be coaching against those uniforms,” Childs said. “I coached some of those players when they were freshmen, and coached both of the Goddard coaches. That certainly made it different.”
Rooney said that, right now, the rivalry is more for the players; but once both teams are in the top echelon of the league, he said, the community would become more involved and interested in the soccer rivalry game.
“They’re going to come out and give you their best game, and you better give them yours,” Rooney said he had told his players before the game. “Because you don’t want to hear about it (in community and social media) if you don’t.”
Goddard will host Maize, and Eisenhower will play Arkansas City at home on Thursday.