TERRE HAUTE —
When it comes to the annual intracity showdown between Terre Haute North and Terre Haute South’s boys’ soccer teams, South coach Eric Graves put it best.
“Momentum … it’s always the key in the North-South game. It’s the key in any rivalry game,” Graves said.
Momentum on Wednesday was created out of a Patriots’ cross that wasn’t.
North senior forward Kaden Sloan scored the opening goal of the match less than three minutes into the game and the Patriots were never headed on their way to a 2-0 victory.
The triumph over the rival Braves returned The Cup to the Patriots’ side of Terre Haute for the first time since 2008. And the decisive goal came as a surprise to the person who scored it.
Sloan’s goal came after a corner kick from the right side Sloan had taken himself. The ball was deflected back out to him on the right corner of the 18-yard box.
By all appearances, it appeared that Sloan had made one touch towards the goal and then converted a crafty lob into the top left corner of the net to give North an early advantage.
But as Sloan explained afterwards, his opening goal wasn’t intended to be a shot at all.
“Getting that ball out [from the box], I knew we had to start something. I saw some guys on the far post and I knew that if I got in somewhere in that area somebody would get it in. But the fact that it turned into a goal? That was amazing,” Sloan said. “It was intended to be a far-post cross, but it went in. It gave us momentum and that’s really all that matters.”
Indeed. North settled down and played a smooth first half. Though possession and chances were largely even — both teams had five shots at goal in the first half — North had the stronger chances, nearly all of them taken by Jacob Parham. North settled for a 1-0 halftime advantage.
South had mostly attacked through the middle of the field with its experienced in the first half and North coach John Welch praised his middle defenders for keeping the Braves from taking too many shots.
“Bradley [Klingele], Jared [Prifogle] are our midfielders and Chris Knight and James Welch are our center-backs. They’ve been really, really good,” John Welch said. “What I was impressed with is our wing play with Logan [Perry] and Damon Prifogle. They were fantastic.”
North (5-5, 1-2 MIC) took the match by the scruff of the neck early in the second half as the Patriots took three out of the first shots.
The breakthrough came with 26:54 left to play. Sloan made a run down the right side of the South defense while Parham made a parallel run through the middle. Sloan delivered an accurate cross to Parham, who slipped it past South keeper Carter Hall to make it 2-0.
“I was wide open and I knew it was a great chance. I just put myself in the right position and Kaden delivered the perfect ball. It was really all Kaden, I’m just the finisher,” Parham said.
The Braves (3-6, 0-3) took three more shots for the remainder of the contest as North flooded the South end to prevent a goal. All of the shots were taken by senior forward Sam Mimms, but North keeper Myles Curry preserved the shutout.
“The nerves were gone for North [after the second goal]. We changed our offensive formation, but there were still gaps in our level of emotion. We weren’t as moving as well together as a team as I’d have liked. [North] definitely exploited it,” Graves said.
Welch said the Patriots learned a valuable lesson after letting an early lead slip away against Mooresville last weekend.
“We got an early goal last Saturday and Mooresville beat us with 45 seconds to go. We did a good job maintaining our composure when South did a good job,” Welch said.
For North’s seniors — the Patriots have 12 of them — claiming The Cup is the culmination of quest that had gone unsatisfied for the entire high school careers.
“It feels amazing for me. We lost the Cup my freshman year. To go through all these years not being able to win it back was tough. Last year [a tie] we got close. I knew that we had what it took to come back and play like a team,” Sloan said.
Terre Haute South 0 0 — 0
Terre Haute North 1 1 — 2
North goals — Kaden Sloan (unassisted), 36:16 1H; Jacob Parham (Sloan), 26:54 2H.
Saves — Hall (THS) 6, Curry (THN) 5.
Shots at goal — THS 9, THN 11.
Next — Terre Haute North (5-5, 1-2 MIC) and Terre Haute South (3-6, 0-3) play at Indianapolis North Central and Center Grove on Saturday.