The heat and humidity reigned throughout Thursday night’s boys soccer contest between Columbus East and Bloomington North.
Both teams were given a quick water break at the midway point in each half. It was after the midway point of the first half that Olympians turned it up a notch, netting three goals in the final 14 minutes of the half.
The Cougars made a strong second half comeback but came up short, and East escaped with a 3-2 victory.
It was a nice bounce back victory for the Olympians after suffering a disappointing loss to Hoosier Hills Conference rival Seymour on Tuesday.
“We had a lot of great movement off the ball,” East coach Brad Barber said. “That allowed us to possess the ball from the back a number of times. We did a very good job of finishing today.”
The Olympians’ charge started in the 26th minute. Eli Newell kicked the ball at Bloomington North goalkeeper Erik Appel, and he punched it away. The ball went straight up and not over the goal. Ricky Johnson was there to clean it up, heading it in for a 1-0 lead.
In the 34th minute, Nicholas Shedd outran the entire Cougar defense to boot it past the keeper and into the net for a 2-0 lead. In the final minute of the first half, Landon Miles made a terrific pass right at Dustin Rodgers, who finished off the play to cap off the first half at 3-0.
“Last year, when we got up on teams, we buried them,” Rodgers said. “That was what our mindset was. We went out to try to score as many goals as possible and keep driving it at them.”
Bloomington North had several opportunities in the second half. In the 68th minute, a ball deflected off a couple of East defenders for an own goal to cut it 3-1. In the 70th minute, a handball was called on the Olympians in the box and Brandon Hunt converted the penalty kick.
East (2-2) then shut out the Cougars over the final 10 minutes.
“Our players did what was necessary to close the game out,” Barber said. “It is baby steps, but this team is getting there, and I’m proud of them.”
The Olympians had 17 shots, with 10 on goal. Bloomington North finished with nine shots, with three on goal.
Next for East is its matchup against crosstown rival Columbus North on Saturday night.
“It is one of our biggest games of the season because everyone is there watching,” Rodgers said. “We want to put up our best for our school.”