Issac Alveraz competing for header during the Cougars 5-1 loss against the New Knoxville Rangers. (DHI Media/ Reid Maus)
Issac Alveraz competing for header during the Cougars 5-1 loss against the New Knoxville Rangers. (DHI Media/ Reid Maus)

VAN WERT — A day after finding out that they will be traveling to St. Marys for the first round of the Division II playoffs, the Van Wert Cougars hosted the New Knoxville Rangers. The Cougars were thrashed by the Rangers 5-1 as New Knoxville scored three times in the final 20 minutes.

“Today’s game, they played harder than us and they won 5-1.” said Van Wert head coach Matt Hernandez.

Despite both teams putting up over five shots in the first half, only the Rangers were able to score. Both goals found the back of the net in a three minute span.

The first was when a striker from New Knoxville parted his way through the Van Wert defenders into the right side of the box for an early 1-0 lead.

Just three minutes later, Van Wert suffered an own goal following a failure to clear a corner kick. The ball ricocheted off of one of the Cougars who were clustered in the box and rolled into the goal.

To say that the Cougars had several near misses would be an understatement.

In the 38th minute, Asnake Steyer took a shot that banged off the right post. Gabe Steyer took a shot that rolled to the goalie just a few minutes later.

For the first ten minutes of the second half the Cougars controlled the pace of the game, and had two heart-breaking misses to show for it.

In the 41st minute a beautiful low arching pass over the head of several Ranger defenders gave Van Wert an open shot that sailed left of the goal. In the subsequent attack the Cougars booted a shot off the post and right into the New Knoxville goal keeper’s arms.

“We have three or four chances that hit the post and just didn’t quite cross the line,” said Hernandez. “The score could have very easily been 4-1 at one point. That is the story of soccer, sometimes you just don’t get the right bounce.”

Van Wert junior Dylan Brayton scored the lone goal for Cougars when he beat the New Knoxville keeper to the ball in the 51st minute.

With constant attacks from the Cougars it felt as though they were going to get the equalizer at any minute, but the game took a very different turn.

Just as they did in the first half, New Knoxville banged home two goals in a three minute span, just ten minutes after the Cougars scored. The Rangers found the back of the net in the 74th minute to finalize their 5-1 victory.

“It is easy when the ball doesn’t bounce your way to get frustrated and lose focus,” said the Cougars’ head coach of their performance. “Today we had an opportunity and we didn’t capitalize on it.”