Erik Yeung works against a Temple Christian defender during van Wert’s boys soccer match in Lima on Thursday. Yeung and the Cougars and Pioneers played to a scoreless draw. (DHI Media/John Parent)
Erik Yeung works against a Temple Christian defender during van Wert’s boys soccer match in Lima on Thursday. Yeung and the Cougars and Pioneers played to a scoreless draw. (DHI Media/John Parent)
By John Parent
DHI Media Sports Editor
LIMA — After a season-opening loss in which Van Wert head coach Matt Hernandez questioned the effort of some of his players, the Cougars came out with passion and played Lima Temple Christian to a scoreless draw on a wet field on Thursday evening.
“I think our effort was ten times better than it was last game,” Hernandez said following the draw. “That’s something that’s hard to coach, and the guys took it upon themselves to step up. They played hard.”
The Cougars controlled early action, getting several scoring chances against the youthful Pioneer squad. Van Wert sophomore Brandon Hernandez ripped off a shot from 18 yards out just 37 seconds into the match, but the ball was easily controlled by Temple keeper D.J. Clay. Two minutes later, Joe Lisa worked the ball through the middle of the field and found Hernandez streaking up the right side, but the Cougar attempt was again turned away by Clay.
At 24:38, Hernandez again got free, this time firing from 17 yards out on the left side of the box. Though his shot was on-target, the Pioneer keeper came up with clean save. The Cougars had another shot on goal less than a minute later, but could not convert.

From that point on, Temple Christian began to control the offense. Freshman Cameron Worsham used some fancy footwork to dribble through a handful of Cougar defenders and got off a shot that looked true, only a leaping save by Van Wert’s Brant Henry kept the game scoreless.
With seven minutes to go, it was the crossbar that turned a Worsham shot away and minutes before the half, Worsham again tried to take the ball to the net, only to have a Cougar defender knock it away late.
“I thought the first half was pretty even,” said the Cougar coach. “We were there for a while, they came at us, we came back at them. Hats off to them (Temple Christian), they played great.
After Clay made a leaping save to prevent a Austin Sudduth shot from finding the net early in the second half, the Pioneers took over once again, putting heavy pressure on the Cougar defenses. For the better part of 20 minutes of game action, Van Wert was forced to play on its heels.
Another shot on goal from Worsham was turned away and Van Wert survived back-to-back corner kicks within the span of two minutes and shots by Taran Zwibel (27 yards) and Judah Whitman 18 yards each sailed just over the crossbar.
In order to preserve the tie, each goal keeper had to stop a 1-on-1 breakaway. For Van Wert, it came at 23:30, when Brandon Hernandez found freshman Eli Rager in the middle of the box. Rager couldn’t get off a clean shot, however, and Clay came up with a stop.
Minutes later, Worsham beat the Cougar defenders down the field and was point-blank with Henry at the doorstep. The Cougar keeper came up with the save to keep the game scoreless.
Each club had chances to score before the game ended. The Cougars flipped the field, controlling action for a five minutes stretch late in the game. A shot by Hernandez sailed wide, and Andrew Perry had a pair of tries gobbled up by Clay. Rager tested the Pioneer netminder from 17 yards out, but a diving stop was made.
“We had a few almost-can’t-miss opportunities, and those are the bounces that we need to go our way,” coach Hernandez added. “
On the other end, Henry came up with a pair of late saves, keeping Temple off the board.
“Still happy with a tie over a loss,” Herndez said. “We can build from this. The guys are going to feel confident. We’ll watch the film, and they’ll see the difference (from first to second game) themselves. Hopefully, that becomes contagious.”