By Aaron Poling
FREMONT – There are certain games that are circled on the calendar each year when the schedules are released.
Whitehall came into the game undefeated while Fremont had only one loss. Everyone figured something had to give between the two outstanding squads, but in the end they battled to an exciting 1-1 draw at Fremont Middle School.
Fremont took the lead late in the first half and nearly rode its single goal to victory, but Whitehall’s Yahir Gonzales salvaged the tie when he knocked in a rebound with about four minutes left .
Whitehall, now 8-0-1 on the season, and Fremont, 9-1-2, will now return to the business of trying to nail down their respective conference championships.
But they may very well meet again, because the teams are in the same Division 2 district tournament, which begins later this month. Only one can win the trophy and advance to regionals, and ties are not allowed in the state tournament.
Both coaches know a rematch is a distinct possibility, but seem to relish the idea of being challenged by another great team.
“It’s always fun to play a good team like Whitehall,” said Fremont Coach Steve Vissia. “They are excellent. They knock the ball around well and have really good speed up front.”
“Fremont is a very good team, well balanced with good players at every position,” said Whitehall Coach Bryan Mahan. “It’s always been good competition with Fremont, and it was a great game again tonight.”
Goals were hard to come by for both teams all night. Fremont took a 1-0 lead into halftime on a fluky score that occurred with 3:49 left in the first half.
Whitehall was attempting to clear the ball from its zone when it took a funny bounce off from Fremont’s Marcus Klimek and went into the net.
Fremont had a chance to extend its lead about midway through the second half, but Whitehall defenders were able to block a shot with a wide open net behind them.
The Packers had yet another opportunity to take a two-goal lead with 9:11 left in the game when a shot went into the Whitehall box and deflected off a defender, but Vikings goalkeeper Sam Stevens made a diving save and kept the game close.
“When all else fails Sam is going to solve the problem,” Mahan said about his goalie. “He does a great job.”
Whitehall finally scored the equalizer with 4:05 remaining when Taden Brandel launched a shot from outside the box. Fremont goalkeeper Jor Kortage made a great save, but was unable to control the rebound, and Gonzales put it in the net to even up the score.
The Vikings outshot the Packers 10-7. Kortage had nine stops for Fremont while Stevens had six for the Vikings.