It was a bittersweet night for Carroll’s boys soccer team, but the Chargers are keeping their season — and the memory of their late coach — alive.
Carroll defeated Snider 8-0 Saturday in the DeKalb Boys Soccer Sectional championship, claiming their third straight title in the tournament. Earning the trophy was the culmination of a 30-goal week following the passing of Head Coach Rollie Clements, who served at the helm of the program for 33 seasons.
“Everything this season is for him at this point now,” senior Logan Gonzalez said. “He put 33 years in and still didn’t win the state championship, so that’s what we’re looking to do this year in honor of him. He was just huge, and he passed down all of his teachings to our underclassmen, so we kind of keep him alive in spirit.”
Gonzalez, Carroll’s goalkeeper and school record holder for most shutouts and lowest average goals allowed in a season, capped off a straight week of shutouts Saturday, following earlier round wins over East Noble, 13-0, and Northrop, 9-0.
“We went in just knowing that we are a great team — we play well together — and so we used that, put our heads down and just kind of grinded out the win tonight,” he said. “We didn’t expect to win by this much, but it was definitely a pleasant surprise.”
The goals came early Saturday and — oftentimes — in pairs.
Senior Rylan Lochmuller, who had a hat trick on the night, took the first shot in the game’s opening minute. Moments later, he was able to run the ball up to Snider’s goal from the right wing and center it for defender Connor Kreilach to score the first point. It was only 20 seconds later that Lochmueller scored one of his own, knocking in a goal from about 10 yards out — again on the right side — near the field’s edge.
At less than 16 minutes into the game, junior Isaac Timmer lunged for a centered ball in front of Snider’s goal, with pressure from the Panthers’ defenders, serving it up high enough for Lochmueller to kick it over the goal line and put Carroll up 3-0.
With just over 15 minutes left in the first half, Timmer took his own shot from deep, which was deflected off the leg of a Snider defender. However, the Chargers’ Brayden Macy, already in motion, picked the ball up inside the box with defenders trailing, and took a shot to the bottom right corner out of reach of Snider goalkeeper Benjamin Whitehill. That goal put Carroll up 4-0 going into halftime.
Thirteen minutes into the second half, junior Evan Jester joined the scoring action, collecting the ball at midfield, hustling down the center and beating Snider defender Trent Rider in a one-on-one to sink the team’s fifth goal. Less than a minute later, senior Owen Repaal scored a goal after rebounding a blocked shot by Whitehill.
Lochmueller’s third goal of the night came with 12:37 left to play, off a penalty kick from the top of the box that he placed in the top right corner of the net. Carroll’s final goal was another quick turnaround — less than a minute from the last. Macy, choosing to avoid a risky shot in the box with Panther defenders around, passed back to sophomore Jack Kennedy who punched it into the back of the net.
“Ever since the growth as a team that we experienced personally after our coach passed, and just kind of being with each other in such a tender moment to grow as a team, it definitely shows through our team chemistry over this past week,” Gonzalez said.
In total, 14 different Chargers accounted for the team’s 30 goals across its three sectional matchups.
“Every game we’re just better and better and better,” Lochmueller said. “With the week we’ve had, it’s just great to go out there are get a big win. … You’ve always got to just continue the level of intensity. There can’t be a drop-off.”
The announcement of Clements’ death came just a day after the team’s first-round game against East Noble. The late coach, 67, had been recently hospitalized and was absent from many of the team’s games this season. During Wednesday’s game against Northrop, both teams spent the first 33 seconds of play motionless and in silence, remembering Clements’ 33 years of dedication to Carroll High School and the greater northeast Indiana soccer community.
Though the Chargers had little time to prepare to return to their scheduled games, Lochmueller said Saturday’s result was a testament to Clements’ storied history as a coach.
“It means the world to us,” he said. “We give the glory to God, but we dedicate that to Rollie, keep pushing for him, remember him and do this for his legacy.”
Carroll (14-2-2) will continue on to the McCutcheon regional in Lafayette for a meeting with the host Mavericks (7-4) on Saturday.
“There’s always a great team in regionals, so I don’t think we’re going to expect to score eight or nine goals a game, but just to continue that high-level play that we’ve had,” Lochmueller said.