Sometimes something is needed to spur a team to victory.
Thursday at Washington, it was a brief pushing match between the Demons and their Southeast Conference foe Mt. Pleasant Panthers that occurred while Washington goalkeeper Ben Baughman lay on the ground injured. As the trainer and Demon coach Sally Hart attended to Baughman, the teams exchanged words and shoves, but it was quickly broken up.
Leading 1-0 at the time, the incident seemed to inspire Mount Pleasant more than Washington as the Panthers went on to a 3-0 win.
“I think you might be right about that,” Mt. Pleasant coach Neil Schmitz said. “I am glad the officials were occupied and did not see what all happened there. I didn’t see all of it myself but I think it did put the guys in a different mode that said we need to put these guys away.”
“It’s a difficult thing for young men to separate their feelings from the job they have to do,” Washington assistant coach Kevin Rohr said.
There were 25 minutes, 19 seconds left in the match when the incident occurred.
Nathan Rauenbuehler scored the first goal with 28:30 remaining in the first half on a cross from the midfielder, Cade Warner. “He gave me a good ball that got through some of their defenders,” Rauenbuehler said. “Thanks to that, I was able to put it past their goalkeeper.”
Rauenbuehler described what started the fracas.
“I got pushed over and the goalkeeper (Baughman) slid into me,” he said. “That kind of hurt. Some of the players on the other team had some words for me and we kind of got into a little bit of an exchange. Carlos Figueroa defended me and then there was a bit of a tussle.”
With 24:18 to go and Baughman back in the game, a foul was called in the box and Warner converted the penalty kick for a 2-0 lead.
“The game changed when they got the penalty kick,” Rohr said. “The guys are tired of not being able to score a goal. I think they took it pretty hard personally. We just try to encourage them.”
“It’s hard to stop a penalty kick, even if you are the best keeper ever,” Schmitz said. “After that we had some good momentum that really helped us. Having that momentum allowed us to get that third goal which kind of put it away.”
With 11:03 left, Ovidio Reyes-Cardona dribbled downfield, past a defender, then juked the keeper and scored for the 3-0 advantage.
“He got a great pass, was able to get around the guy and dribble right around the keeper,” Schmitz said. “You like to see that.”
Schmitz thought the score could have been higher but for Baughman. “We were missing shots because their keeper does a good job. He was really making some good saves. We had some good opportunities to score but they played good defense.”
The Demons had lost 7-0 at Mt. Pleasant earlier and took steps to change that outcome before the match.
“The guys put forth a tremendous amount of effort,” Rohr said. “We worked hard in practice before this game. We coached them hard and prepared the guys for this match with a new formation. So we were wearing a new pair of shoes out there. We made sure the guys understood the strengths and weaknesses of it before they went out there. The guys did a good job of executing it for the first time. Being cold like it is, made it tough but I thought the guys shook it off and gave great effort. We’ve obviously improved.”
The Demons are 2-9 and 1-5 in the league with a match Monday at No. 8 (Class 1A) Iowa Mennonite School.
“It has been frustrating to not get the ball in the goal,” Rohr said. “We had some missed opportunities. Some of those shots went over the crossbar, some were on target but then they went to the keeper. You just can’t score that way.”
The Panthers, who are 11-4 overall and 6-2 in the SEC, have a tournament Saturday at Independence where they play against Cedar Rapids Cedar Valley Christian and Independence.