Hartford Prress Box By Jerrod Birmele
Hartford Soccer claims 3rd straight district title in thrilling fashion
Last week, the Hartford Indian Soccer team, ranked 14th in Division 4, competed on the postseason stage once again, as they hosted district action. The Indians came in to the week having won 15 straight matches, including a victory in their first match of districts. The competition would almost certainly take a leg up, and this group of men knew tougher teams would be waiting for them down the line. Tougher matches now will certainly help them later.
KADEN GOES AIRBORNE… Hartford Goalkeeper Kaden Johnson (00) goes up over multiple players, including his own teammate Danny Gutierrez (22), to catch the ball and create a goal kick, while Joel Soto (11), Nick Pultz (27) and Aaron Lopez-Robles (29) look on. Johnson made eight saves in Hartford’s 1-nil shutout of New Buffalo, securing the team’s third consecutive district championship. (Photo courtesy of Angie Johnson)
On Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 15, Hartford hosted Bangor in a district semifinal match. The Indians and the Vikings have already played twice this season, with the good guys having won both matches: 8-nil on August 28 and 5-3 on September 18. However, with both teams’ playoff hopes on the line, the crowd in attendance knew this one could be the closest match to date. It started that way, with Hartford only managing one goal in the first half to lead, 1-nil, at halftime. The match remained that way until the Indians scored three goals in the final 13 minutes to put Bangor away for good, and win the match, 4-0, advancing them to the district final.
On Thursday, Oct. 17, Hartford hosted New Buffalo for the district championship. The Indians and the Bison had not played a match against each other since the 2015 season, but considering both teams boasted great records, with Hartford at 19-3 and New Buffalo at 14-3-1, this had all the makings of an exciting match. With the largest crowd of the season on hand to witness this title game, Hartford got on the board in the 29th minute on a shot struck by Miggy Cardoso, that was initially stopped by the goalkeeper. The ball hit the post, struck the goalkeeper again and went into the net to make it 1-nil. The score remained the same all the way up to the final horn, with the Indians taking the district championship for the third straight season.
The defense was stout all match long, and goalkeeper Kaden Johnson recorded the shutout with an 8-save effort. Hartford is currently 20-3 on the season.
Hartford Football keeps playoff hopes alive with 42-6 Decatur throttling
Friday night, Oct. 18, the Hartford Indian Football team traveled to Decatur to take on the rival Raiders, in the first game of a two-game road trip to end the season. The Indians came into the game with a 4-3 record, and in order to keep their playoff hopes alive, they would likely need to win both this game, and next week against White Pigeon, to accomplish it. Both teams beat the Indians last year, so Hartford has revenge on their mind.
On a cool, brisk, but yet, sunny evening, Hartford played possibly their best game of the year-to-date. The Indians dominated on the offensive, and defensive, side of the ball, capitalizing on big offensive plays and key defensive takeaways. Hartford led 7-0 after one quarter and 14-6 at halftime.
They turned up the wick in the second half, turning a close ballgame into a rout. Hartford scored a touchdown in the third quarter to extend their lead to 21-6, before scoring three times in the fourth quarter to put the game completely out of reach. The final result was a satisfying, yet shocking, 42-6 victory over Decatur, keeping the Indians playoff hopes alive going into the final game of the season.
Hartford’s first score of the game came on 4th down, when quarterback Kyle Manning slipped into a hole in the Raider defense and made the run pay off, as he rumbled 66 yards for the touchdown. Placekicker Nick Pultz converted the extra-point, and Hartford led 7-0 midway through the first quarter.
The Indians added to their lead early in the second quarter, as Aaron Sinclair took the handoff and went three yards for the second Hartford touchdown of the night.