Cole Camp’s Taylor Sullivan accomplished something Oct. 22 that no other soccer player has done in the past four weeks — he scored a goal against Sacred Heart.
Sullivan’s goal in the fifth minute of the Class 1, District 6 tournament championship game at Clover Dell is the only one the Gremlins have allowed since a 3-2 win over Summit Christian on Oct. 8.
Since then, the Gremlins recorded shutouts in wins over Osage, Stover, Cole Camp and Clinton to close the regular season, then shut out Smithton in the district semifinal and Laquey in the Class 1 quarterfinal — six shutouts in the past seven games.
“We’ve been really working hard in practice,” said Gremlins center-back Chance Spangler. “We’ve molded together. I just feel like everyone has each others’ backs and we really have a lot of trust in each other. I think that really shows on the field that each four of the backs has stepped up and made plays.”
The current run puts Sacred Heart at 16 clean sheets this season heading into Friday’s semifinal matchup with Principia.
“We continue to play in a block-style defense that has worked for us the last several years,” said Sacred Heart coach Travis Cooper. “These guys just continue to work at that. The big thing of making that work is that guys have to drop and cover. If you do that, you don’t get beat too often coming through there. It just plugs up all the holes.”
Spangler and fellow center-back Teagan Trammell have emerged as leaders on defense with several other players such as Chris Mergen, Camren Hayden and Kolin Brace rotating through. Spangler said the group has developed a lot of chemistry.
Other teams have been able to make runs, including Laquey who had a promising run in overtime on Saturday in the quarterfinal, but the Gremlins back line has been able to shut most of them down.
“We really never want an opponent to ever turn, so we try to get a lot of pressure on the ball,” Spangler said. “We try to get a man up top and then get guys behind to drop and cover. A lot of the teams we play are kick-and-run teams so it’s big when they play through balls to get a guy to step up and a guy to drop under. There’s always mistakes, so we always have someone to back them up.”
Eric Ingles can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @Eric_Ingles