Central collects 2-1 victory against Notre Dame

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Central junior Erik Allen scored his first goal of the season and his first goal of his varsity career at an optimal time for the Tigers.

Allen, a center back who is in his first season playing varsity, scored off a corner kick in the second half of a tie game against rival Notre Dame to help Central to a 2-1 victory and the SEMO conference title Monday at Central High School.

"It feels really good," Allen said of his goal on senior night. "I'm pretty excited. I can't wait to go into districts and continue from there. ... I'm still pumping with adrenaline. The seniors, they are still excited. They are not sad it's their last [home] game. They're going to keep going."

Central improved to 16-8 while Notre Dame dropped to 16-4.

The last time Allen scored a goal before Monday was when he was an underclassman and playing in a junior varsity tournament against Notre Dame.

Allen said he especially enjoys playing Notre Dame because he has played with members of their team, including Joe Froemsdorf, Taylor Essner, Jack Mocherman and Ryan Bass.

"We all played with each other before," Allen said. "We're great friends, but when you get on this field you really want to beat them."

Right after Allen kicked his shot past Bass, he reached into the net, grabbed the ball and ran with it toward the middle of the field, celebrating with his teammates.

"I was just there to follow up and get in the keeper's way," Allen said. "And that's what happened. [Josh] Compas hit it out of Bass' hands, and I just put it back in.

"I wanted to get the ball out of the back of the net because our coach tells us it's a pride thing. It takes guts to take the ball out of their net and run it back up the field. It was necessary. I just wanted to keep on playing and keep on pounding it back into their goal."

Allen said his first varsity season has been enjoyable, but difficult. He said he's had to work hard to earn a starting spot.

"The thing about Erik Allen is that he's been fighting a tear, kind of, in the groin area," Central coach Dan Martin said. "We were actually fortunate to sit him for two-and-a-half weeks to recover. During that time we picked up some really good wins, and he came back fresh and rejuvenated and he's a good person to have back there. He complements Brett Smith very well, and those two work together and they hold the line very strong."

Notre Dame took a 1-0 lead 6 minutes, 50 seconds into the contest when Joda Holloway scored.

Central battled back to tie it 1-1 with about 9 minutes left in the first half when senior Zach Zaruba scored a header. Zaruba's goal was his 25th of the season.

"We kept fighting, and we told ourselves to use our heart, heart, heart, heart," Zaruba said. "And we fought on through it."

Notre Dame coach Brad Wittenborn reminded his players after the game that they lost to Central on the road last season and then regrouped to win the state tournament.

"I think that Cape plays so hard against us, and Jackson plays so hard against us, that it is a playoff atmosphere," Wittenborn said. "They had a big crowd here and it's going to help us down the road to have played this game."

Notre Dame lost one of its leading scorers, John Unterreiner, to an ankle injury with 18:15 remaining in the first half. Unterreiner was held out the rest of the first half and tried to play the second half, but was removed quickly.

"I thought we played pretty decent soccer," Wittenborn said. "Cape played a good game. It was a game that could have gone either way. ... We can build off this."

Central keeper Carlos Salas made 20 saves and Bass had 14 saves.

"All around the team just played excellent," Martin said. "I tip my hat to Notre Dame. It seemed like it was almost a mirror image of last game. First half both teams come in tied 1-1. ... We worked for our goals and we earned our goals. But I will say Notre Dame put the pressure on us just like we did at their place. And we held off the pressure, so that's good. But again, Notre Dame is a great team and it was a great game altogether."

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