ZIONSVILLE – It was almost like a second season opener for the top-ranked Zionsville boys soccer team on Saturday morning.
After winning their season opener on Aug. 22, the Eagles second game was postponed until Saturday, making it nine days in between games. So while there was a little rust evident in the early stages on the game, Zionsville did what they needed to in a 2-0 win over 19th-ranked Fishers.
“We were definitely a little rusty, especially early in the game,” Zionsville head coach Rob Jordan said. “We started to knock it around a little bit as the game went on. We just couldn’t quite get all the rust off. There is a lot of great potential here, we just have to get it sorted out and that will happen as we get to play more regularly.”
Zionsville had the best two chances early in the first half, with Alex Carr nearly scoring with 23 minutes remaining in the half, and then a solid header by Ben Weidner was saved a minute later.
With the wind at their backs, the Tigers also had chances, but Zionsville keeper Gavin Raff made two really strong saves diving to his right, and stopped another 1-v-1 in the first half to keep Fishers off the board.
“He did extremely well,” Jordan said. “He made some great saves, and was pretty dominate in his box too. Particularly 8-10 yards out, he was really strong there. He snuffed everything out, and he has done really well. We are really happy with what he is doing.”
The Eagles finally got on the board with six minutes remaining in the first half.
Ben Dunning hit a long-ranked strike from about 35 yards out that swerved over the keeper’s head and into the goal.
Jordan said that the timing of the goal was big for his team.
“Getting that first goal is always a relief,” Jordan said. “It was a nice ball into him by Chris Freeman, and Ben just cracked it. It was a great shot.”
Dunning now has two goals in two games for the Eagles.
He has been put into a bigger role this year, and Jordan said he has started the season well when he has gotten his opportunities.
“Alex Backhaus had a little injury today, so it opened up a bigger role for him and as they say it is ‘next man up,’” Jordan said. “Ben stepped up and did very well for us and has done well in the first two games.”
The Eagles continued to pressure in the early portion of the second half, and got the important goal they were looking for 10 minutes into the second stanza.
Chris Freeman’s corner kick went over the heads of the first wave of players leaping for a header, but found the left foot of Alec McCarty, who volleyed a shot into the next.
On their road to the state championship game a year ago, set pieces were a big strength for the Eagles. Jordan said he hopes that this year will be more of the same.
“We had some big goals off set pieces and it was no different today,” Jordan said. “We got the second goal off a corner, then had a couple off the crossbar and another one saved off the crossbar. We have been very dangerous off them so far, not just corners, but free kicks too. Chris has been putting in some incredible balls and I think we will get a lot more goals off set pieces.”
The only question was whether the Eagles would get the shutout, and while Fishers put some pressure on, they didn’t get any good chances on goal.
After playing just twice in the first two weeks of the season, the Eagles schedule gets considerably busier in the next week, with six games in eight days.
They travel to Westfield on Tuesday and Cathedral Thursday before traveling to the Hoosier Cup over the weekend.
“We are going to be really busy this next week,” Jordan said. “There will be very little training, but the guys get into a groove and just like playing. We are at a point in the season now where we are just sick of practicing and playing against each other. It’s a grind and a challenge, but these guys love challenges and they will step up and we will have a great opportunity to play against some really great teams.”