By Josh Brown
TIPP CITY — Even on the most dismal of days, Tippecanoe created some beauty.
But beyond Austin Hass’ goal off of a direct kick from 40 yards out by Wade Timmer, there wasn’t much of that to be had as the Red Devils and non-league rival Indian Hill Braves battled through a constant rain and slick sludge Saturday at Tipp City Park, with Tippecanoe holding on for a 1-0 victory to remain undefeated at 7-0.
And, with the conditions both defenses had to fight through, everyone present was surprised that that one goal stood up — even knowing how stingy Tippecanoe’s defense has been this season.
“I think that was Austin’s second of the season,” Tippecanoe coach Scott Downing said. “I was worried today because the field was slick and the ball was moving at a faster pace. But this was just a hard-fought game between two really good teams.
“We created chances today. I would’ve liked it more if we finished more, but a win is a win. We got one, and they didn’t.”
Which has been a common theme for the Devils this season.
The Devils began the season with 1-0 victories over Oakwood, Northmont and Butler — three of the area’s stronger teams. After three easy wins over Central Buckeye Conference crossover foes, though, Tippecanoe faced off against an Indian Hill team that it has gone 1-4-1 against since 2010, including a 3-1 postseason loss to the Braves in 2012. The last time Tippecanoe beat Indian Hill was a 1-0 win in 2010, and the two teams tied 1-1 last season.
Asked if Saturday’s win was the most satisfying 1-0 victory this season, Downing just smiled.
“They’ve been progressively getting better and better,” he said. “Beating Oakwood and Northmont and Butler was nice. Those are all good teams. And this is another big win over a good team. We’re making a good run at it this season.”
Tippecanoe slowly built up to its score on Saturday, putting the Braves under pressure with cross after cross that either didn’t have anyone on the other end to finish or deflections that went wide or high.
But with 26:24 to go in the first half, Indian Hill committed a foul back at midfield, and Timmer lined up to take the direct kick. He chipped the ball on a perfect arc into the box in front of the Braves’ goal, and Haas was able to outleap everyone for it and head it down into the net, a beautifully-executed play that gave the Devils a 1-0 edge.
Indian Hill began to fight back, but Andrew Taylor made a solid sliding tackle to break up a potential breakaway with 20 minutes to go in the half — and then he helped up the Brave he’d taken down as play went the other way. The Braves brought pressure back, though, and Josh Young hit a direct kick from 30 yards out wide left. Tippecanoe keeper Dylan Shomper and the Devil defense punched out a series of corner kicks, as well, and with 2:45 left until halftime the Braves’ Alex David finally put a shot on goal, but it was a roller that Shomper easily scooped up.
The Braves kept the heat on early in the second, with Matt Dufourcq caroming a shot off of a Tippecanoe defender — only to have Shomper make a diving save on the ball. The Devils began to build momentum after that, maintaining possession either in midfield or in the Indian Hill end from there.
“It was so slick out that it was hard for either team to possess the ball for any time,” Downing said. “We just tried to keep it in the corner, bleed some time and if we get a cross off, we get one.”
Indian Hill (3-4-2) had one last chance to tie the score midway through the second half on a bizarre sequence.
A foul was called at midfield, but no signal was given immediately — and both teams began heading toward the Indian Hill goal, assuming that that was the way the call would go. But the foul turned out to be on the Devils, and the Braves quickly sent the ball long toward the Tipp goal before the defense could react — and David was pulled down in the box for what appeared like it would be a penalty kick.
But the officials awarded Indian Hill an indirect kick from less than 10 feet in front of Tippecanoe’s goal, and the teams both set up for an awkward play. The Braves tapped the ball lightly to a trailing player who sent a low shot in and Tippecanoe turned it away — but the officials blew the play dead and lined everyone up for a second attempt. After this light tap, though, the officials blew the play dead and awarded a free kick to the Devils, and Indian Hill’s opportunity was gone.
The Braves made one final desperate push with 30 seconds to play, but Peyton Smith stole the ball just outside the box and sent it up to Mitch Colvin, who worked around an Indian Hill defender for a breakaway. The Braves’ keeper made a play on the ball to prevent a shot, but Colvin’s run had already drained the rest of the time off the clock.
“As soon as Mitch got it, I was like ‘game over,’” Downing said, reenacting a sigh of relief.
Tippecanoe will look to make it 8-0 Monday at Graham, a 6 p.m. start.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.