SPARTA — After falling behind 3-1, the Highland Scots boys soccer team rebounded to tie the game at 3 in the second half, but visiting River Valley rattled off two goals to close out the 5-3 win Wednesday.
“It was one of those back-and-forth affairs,” Highland coach John Sachleben said. “We knew they’d be ready coming to play, so it was pretty evenly matched.”
Viking Michael Haas struck first for the visitors, finding the back of the net in the eighth minute. Cameron Striblin found the equalizer for the Scots with a shot that hit the crossbar and dropped into the goal in the 32nd minute. River Valley had the final say heading into half, with Sergie Littleton scoring on a nicely placed shot in the 37th minute, giving the Vikings the 2-1 halftime advantage.
Three minutes after the break, Haas recorded another score for River Valley, pushing the edge to 3-1. Five minutes later, Garrett Milburn began reeling the game back in with a shot off the side of his foot that curled into the top corner, cutting the lead to 3-2 in the 48th minute.
“He practices those kinds of touches and that’s what he does and that was fun to see,” Sachleben said.
Milburn knotted the game at 3 in the 64th minute with a shot that found the upper netting.
“We were down 3-1 and I was proud to see these kids come back and tie it,” Sachleben said. “Then we started having a little bit of attrition with a couple injury issues … but that’s no excuse. That wasn’t really the major factor.”
Due to those injuries, Highland had players out of position and, although it continued to push forward, was unable to find another score. Haas recorded a hat trick with a rocket into the back of the net in the 69th minute. In the 79th minute, Evan Kitchen put the game away with a goal off a corner to earn the Vikings a 5-3 win, which was revenge for a 3-2 win in Sparta by the Scots last year.
“They never quit obviously and that’s not what we do. We aren’t a quitting bunch,” Sachleben said. “There is no quit in these kids. … There is nothing to hang our head. They outgunned us tonight and that happens and we tip our hat to them.”
The Scots now sit at 3-4-1 on the year at the halfway point of the season. Their three wins this year ties a school record set in the program’s inaugural year.
“We win another game and we set the school record for wins, so that’s pretty nice,” Sachleben said.
Highland returns to the pitch on the road Saturday against Licking Valley, starting at 12 p.m.
Highland girls shutout by Vikings
The Highland Scots girls soccer team hosted River Valley Wednesday and gave up two first-half goals and were never able to rally.
“There were lots and lots of good things,” Highland coach Matt Mosher said. “We had some midfield doing stuff and we passed the ball back. Stuff that looks like you practiced it instead of just kicking the ball.”
River Valley’s Kenzington Hage put the Vikings on the board in the 16th minute. She converted a free kick from just outside of the box in the upper portion of the net. Ten minutes later, Hage scored another goal to give the Vikings the 2-0 advantage.
“The two goals in the beginning are goals that are preventable,” Mosher said. “River Valley is a good team, so nothing against them, but it wasn’t anything if we played a little better to have that.”
In the second half, Highland shutout River Valley. The Scots continued to work the ball around the pitch, but was unable to get any great looks at the frame.
“We took big steps forward, but the score doesn’t show it,” Mosher said. “We just haven’t scored yet.”
The Scots return to action Saturday on the road against Licking Valley, with the kickoff at 10 a.m.