Close losses to state-ranked teams shows Ottawa High school boys soccer coach Daniel Nathan the Cyclones are capable of making a run in the postseason.
Ottawa nearly pulled a big upset over Baldwin, the top-ranked team in the 4-1A southeast coaches poll, in Ottawa. The Cyclones fell 2-1 as Baldwin scored two break away goals, while Ottawa’s best chance at a tying goal did not find the back of the net.
“They are a good team,” Nathan said. “They are the No. 1 team. We held them to 1-1 in the first half.”
Most of Ottawa’s seven losses have come by narrow margins.
“There have been no easy wins against us,” Nathan said. “We are getting stronger as the season goes on. That bodes well for the postseason.”
The same kind of effort and level of play Ottawa had against Baldwin could propel the Cyclones to a strong finish.
Nathan figures the Cyclones are putting their game together and playing solid as a unit. Ottawa is healthier now after sustaining injuries in the middle portion of the season.
“It shows a lot of character,” Nathan said. “Our legs are not as fresh as they were [earlier] in the season.”
Ottawa gave Baldwin fits. Earlier this season, Baldwin handed Ottawa a 6-0 loss, its worst set back of the season.
“We were ready for a tough game,” Nathan said. “It went according to plan. We held the line.”
Ottawa kept Baldwin’s strong offensive attack quiet for most of the match. Baldwin’s scores came off one-on-one opportunities.
The Bulldogs counter-attack was tough to defend because of their team speed.
Baldwin struck first for a 1-0 lead with 29 minutes left in the first half.
Ottawa kept the pressure on offensively and forced a turnover in front of the 18-foot box. Brandon Church made the Bulldogs pay.
The junior set himself up for a one-on-one opportunity. He drew the Baldwin keeper out and fired it past him for a goal. It tied it at 1-1 with 12:35 left in the first half.
Baldwin scored again with 27 minutes left in the match.
“We had a one-on-one with Matt Dodd that their keeper made an incredible save on,” Nathan said. “We are scoring goals. We are finishing well.”
The Ottawa junior varsity fell 2-1.
Ottawa (6-7-1) plays 6 p.m. Tuesday at home against Kansas City Christian.
Greg Mast can be reached at email@example.com or on twitter at @ottawasports1