COLUMBUS — From the first practice back in August, Tippecanoe boys soccer coach Joel Slyman knew he had a special group of young men.
Saturday afternoon at Historic Crew Stadium, the Red Devils made that official.
Tippecanoe defeated previously undefeated and number one ranked in the state Richfield Revere 2-0 in the D-II state championship game, giving the Red Devils their second state championship in five years.
Tipp closes the season at 22-1-1, while Revere fell to 20-1-2.
“This is a group of guys who just loves playing soccer together,” Slyman said. “And they just kept getting better as the season went on.”
Depending on who you ask, there were two critical junctures in the season.
First came the a game with Vandalia-Butler late in the season, with Tipp winning 5-1.
“I think the Butler game was the turning point,” Landon Haas said.
He would get no argument from Slyman.
“That was the league championship game,” Slyman said. “And that was probably the first time we played a complete game.”
But goalie Michael Jergens wasn’t looking ahead.
“I think it was when won won the district game (against Oakwood),” Jergens said. “We weren’t looking past that (after losing that game the last two years). We have worked so hard for this the last four years. This just feels amazing.”
Slyman also wasn’t looking ahead.
“We needed to get past that district final game,” he said. “I think after that, maybe you start thinking about a state championship. But, not before that.”
And it seemed only fitting that Haas would make a statement that would leave Revere stunned.
With 30:30 still remaining in the first half— after passes from Cameron Smith and Caleb Ransom — he drilled a shot from 35 yards to the far post to give Tipp a lead they would never relinquish.
“Same thing as last game (a game-winning goal in double overtime in the state semifinals),” Haas said. “I just hit it to the far post. I did it last game, I just figured I would do it again.”
Slyman said it set the tone for the rest of the game.
“We wanted to get them early,” he said. “I felt like if we did that, it would get them back on their heels. That it would stun them. And I think it did. Landon Haas is such an amazing player.”
“Definitely (it gave him a good feeling),” he said. “Landon (Haas) is such and amazing player. He is incredible.”
Then, with just 14:44 remaining in the game, Ransom and Colin Turner hooked up on a goal to to all abut lock up the state title.
Ransom made an amazing move to get deep to the baseline near the goal before finding Turner in front of the goal.
“What a play by Caleb Ransom, that kid played his butt off today,” Slyman said. “Colin Turner was right where he was supposed to be. He was right there where Caleb could slot it to him. It was great to see Colin get a dirty goal like that.”
Turner gave Ransom all the credit.
“He got almost to the baseline,” Turner said. “And then he got me the ball. It feels amazing to score a goal in a state championship game.”
If there were any doubts before, there were none at the point with Jergens between the pipes. He was up to every challenge on the day and James Miller had a great block on a shot down close to the goal.
Revere outshot Tipp 20-15, but both teams had five shots on target. Tipp had 10 corner kicks to Revere’s five and both teams had one offsides called. Jergens had five saves and Revere’s Jake Nations had three saves.
“I was giving up two goals in that situation, not a chance,” Jergens said. “It just feels incredible to be state champions. We have worked so hard for this.”
And now it will go into the record books, just how special this team was.
Something, Slyman knew from the start.
Sports Editor Rob Kiser can be reached at [email protected]