by Richard Creaser
copyright the Chronicle 10-13-2013
ORLEANS — If the Lake Region Rangers have an Achilles heel personified, it just might be the Danville Indians. In their previous match-up on September 24, the Indians walked away with a 2-0 win, handing Lake Region only its second loss of the season. When the two teams met again on Saturday afternoon, the Indians appeared poised for a repeat performance.
The Indians were first to strike as Gabe Farr buried a pass from Patrick White with 33:59 remaining in the first half. The Indians battled the Rangers evenly throughout the half, disrupting any game flow host Lake Region could put together.
Lake Region’s first-half play lacked the usual grit and drive that characterizes this team’s performance. Ranger Alex Beauregard, a lynch-pin in the team’s offense, was unable to break free of Danville’s smothering coverage.
“We went out there with a plan specifically tailored to playing Lake Region,” Danville Coach Charlie Remick said after the game. “The boys stuck with the plan. I think we had more dos than don’ts on the field.”
Ranger Dillon Gile acknowledged that the team hit the field without its usual fire in the first half. But the Rangers also recognized that they would need to bring it or else risk dropping a second game to their Danville rivals.
“What changed in the second half? Intensity,” Gile said after the game. “We’ve been working on that all year. Keeping that intensity for the whole game.”
A Lake Region offense that first appeared timid and scattered re-focused in the second half. Avoiding the dump and run and manufacturing passes finally enabled Beauregard to slip his coverage with 32:04 left in the second half.
“We’d been trying to get the ball up the middle to Alex all game,” Gile said. “We finally did it and he put it in the net. That goal was huge for us.”
A chip shot from Logan Harper landed almost exactly between Beauregard and Danville keeper Kyle Johnson. With a defender hot on his heels and Johnson charging out, Beauregard put on a burst of speed to reach the ball first. Beauregard’s shot was high and hard and he deftly vaulted a diving Johnson to tie up the game 1-1.
The score would remain tied through the remainder of the half and through two overtime halves as well. With the tie Lake Region’s record advances to 8-2-2 while Danville climbs to 7-3-2.
“It would have been a shame for either team to lose this game,” Coach Remick said. “We were pretty evenly matched throughout. I think the boys really left everything on the field.”
Gile extended particular thanks to Danny Epinette’s heroics in the Lake Region net. Epinette exemplified toughness when he took a ball to the nose with 15:26 remaining in the first half. With blood pouring out, Epinette was helped off the field for medical attention. Fortunately, the injury appeared to be just a bloody nose. After 10 minutes on the sidelines, Epinette returned to play.
Epinette came up with two huge saves late in the second half, including a diving save with only 14 seconds left on the clock. He would repeat the feat with 2:41 left in the second overtime to keep Lake Region’s hopes alive.
“Danny saved us probably a dozen times this game,” Gile said. “He kept us in the game and did everything he could to help us win it.”
Forcing Epinette to make those saves was in part due to a collapse of the Rangers’ defensive systems, Gile said. Better control in the defensive zone would have eliminated at least some of Danville’s scoring opportunities, he said.
“We need to stop lunging at the ball on D,” Gile said. “If we take our time, play to position, we can move the ball ahead. We can’t win with kick and run.”
Lake Region has two more games remaining this season starting with a home match against Richford at 4 p.m. on Thursday, October 17, and wrapping up the regular season at Hazen with an 11 a.m. start on Saturday, October 19.