By Jason Haddix
For The Herald Bulletin
NOBLESVILLE, Ind. —
The Noblesville Millers employed the old adage that the best defense is a good offense Monday night.
The Millers offense pressed the Indians defenders, as much of the 80 minutes of action took place on Anderson’s side of the field, which led to Noblesville’s 7-0 victory in first-round Class 2A boys soccer sectional action.
The Tribe was limited on scoring chances by the Millers' ability to control the ball. During the first half, Anderson had just three significant offensive pushes. Its best opportunity came when Cody Gray sailed a shot over the goal from about 50 feet. Three corner kick tries failed for the Tribe.
The Millers got the scoring underway when Jack Lang found an opening to the goal and sent the ball past Andrew Dimaggio at the 25:32 mark in the first half.
Despite the pressure from the Noblesville offense, Anderson’s defense held strong, keeping the Tribe within one during the first half.
“We played very organized in the first half — by design,” Anderson coach Chris Spolyar said. “We frustrated them in the first half and missed a mark that led to their goal.”
Dimaggio allowed the one goal, while stopping eight other Miller attempts.
Once the clocked rolled to the second half, the Millers' offense found another gear to put the match out of reach.
“In the second half, we came out a step slow,” Spolyar said. “Soccer is a game of inches. In the first half, where we stepped in and intercept the ball in the channels, the second half during that 10-minute period we weren’t.”
The time span actually lasted nearly 12 minutes, and Anderson was down 5-0 and reeling.
“I think we got a little bit frustrated when the goals started coming,” Spolyar said. “We just could not shake it off. When something doesn’t go your way, you start pressing harder. We got tense, and Noblesville took advantage of it.”
When Max Long scored Noblesville’s fourth goal with 29:05 remaining in the match, Spolyar pulled Dimaggio, who ended with 10 saves, in favor of fellow senior Christian Glover.
Glover faced the fire almost immediately. Just more than 30 seconds after he entered the game, Tyler Hart got not one, but two attempts at a penalty kick, making the one that counted.
Glover allowed three goals and recorded seven stops.
After the penalty kick goal for the Millers, Anderson got back to its first-half level of play on defense, but the offense continued to sputter.
Ben Gray made possibly the defensive play of the game for Anderson when Matt Imel had an open goal shot. The freshman slid to block the shot, diverting the ball away from the goal.
“With our program where we are,” Spolyar said, “four years ago we brought two schools together. We are a young program and are setting our traditions, finding our identity.”
Noblesville will face Pendleton Heights in the sectional semifinal round on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The match will be played at the White River Soccer Fields in Noblesville.