COLUMBUS — The Columbus prep boys soccer team hasn’t had many days off this past week, let alone so far this season.
Playing for the seventh time in seven days, the Cardinals found themselves down by two goals twice, but rallied both times to earn a 3-3 draw against Wisconsin Dells in a Capitol Conference game on Tuesday at Columbus High School.
“We fell behind, made a couple mistakes in the box there, but to not back down, this team has gone through a lot,” Columbus coach Paul Genco said. “I’m really proud of battling through what they did and fighting through what they did, not giving up.”
Columbus (0-1-1 Capitol, 3-7-3) generated little possession throughout and carried a 3-2 deficit into the final 10 minutes. With time winding down, the Chiefs (0-0-1, 1-3-1) came close to restoring their two-goal cushion but it was the Cardinals who found the back of the net.
After turning away the Wisconsin Dells opportunity, the Cardinals moved the ball up field to Sal Genco deep in the Chiefs’ half. The junior forward did the rest from there, eluding a pair of Wisconsin Dells defenders and getting free for a shot just outside the 18-yard box.
The strike eluded a diving Ben Fish and found the bottom right corner to knot things at 3 with 88 minutes, 32 seconds played. After another Chiefs chance was thwarted in the waning seconds, Sal Genco found himself with a chance to win the game at the horn, but his last second shot was parried away by Fish as the horn sounded.
“They kept fighting, kept getting through balls through and getting chances, they just weren’t quite there,” Paul Genco said of the late push. “The Dells did a fantastic job with passing and moving without the ball, and that made it really difficult on us, but we got some speed up front and they were able to run.”
While the Cardinals got the last laugh, it was the Chiefs who struck first with a pair of goals in the opening half. After missing a pair of quality chances early on, sophomore Will Van Dinter gave the Chiefs the early 1-0 lead with 32:30 played.
After forcing a turnover just outside the Cardinals 18-yard box, Chiefs freshman Alejandro Salazar slipped Van Dinter into the box on a through ball and he coolly passed it into the upper left corner for the 1-0 lead.
Van Dinter then doubled the Chiefs’ lead after earning a penalty kick with 40:29 left. After being taken down inside the box, Van Dinter fired a shot past Cardinals junior goalkeeper Quinn Meinholz for a 2-0 cushion.
The lead didn’t last long however as Columbus cut into the lead just 64 seconds later as senior Joah Schissel lofted a shot over Fish off a pass from senior Walker Beitz to make it 2-1 with 41:33 played. Entering the intermission with a one-goal deficit, coach Genco said his team needed to stay goal side on the speedy Chiefs, along with improving their communication and pursuit of the ball.
The adjustments paid off, despite falling behind 3-1 just before the hour mark. Once again the lead didn’t last long as Schissel scored his brace with 63:15 before Sal Genco finished off the scoring.
“We had to be first to the ball and we were better in the second half,” coach Genco said. “Communication got better too, and we were just getting some more through runs and racing their defense so it just wasn’t just our defense running, their defense had to run. They made the adjustments and the seniors just led really well on the field.”
COLUMBUS 3, WISCONSIN DELLS 3
Wisconsin Dells 2 1 — 3
Columbus 1 2 — 3
First half: WD — Van Dinter (Salazar), 32:30; Van Dinter (pk), 40:29; Col — Schissel (Beitz), 41:33.
Second half: WD — Arias, 58:55; Col — Schissel, 63:15; Genco, 88:32.
Saves: WD (Fish) 7, Col (Meinholz) 9.