Father McGivney, Highlands defensive stalemate ends in a draw

Saturday wasn’t the result the Griffins were looking for, but something the team ultimately agreed with.

After 80 minutes of physical and defensive action, the Griffins and Bulldogs finished the non-conference game with a 0-0 draw.

“It’s better than a loss,” said FMCHS coach Matt McVicar. “I hate draws, especially when we work so hard. This is how football can end.

FMCHS now sits at 4-5-1, while Highland moves to 1-5-1.

Just because the game ended in a scoreless tie doesn’t mean there wasn’t a lot of drama and excitement, especially towards the end.

In the 76e minute, Highland sent a through ball from midfield to the FMCHS goalkeeper box. With the ball in the box, Griffins goalkeeper Sam Chouinard dove for the ball, with a Highland forward falling on Chouinard.

Chouinard received a red card for the goal-scoring collision, which gave Highland a free-kick high in the box.

With defender Noah Garner now in the Griffins’ goalkeeper position, the Highlands free-kick hit hard over the goal.

It was the last offensive push of the game for either side after the physical back and forth for 80 minutes.

“We work a lot with situations like this, so you get used to the stress,” Chouinard said of the tight game. “Once someone gets a lane open, the adrenaline kicks in, but I have confidence in my defence. When they work hard, it gives me a lot of confidence.

The game was highlighted by the Griffins defense which allowed no goals from eight corners by Highland. The Griffins only had one corner offensively.

The teams were nearly identical on offense, with the Griffins taking the shots advantage 12-11, but Highland had seven of their shots on goal, compared to five shots on goal for the Griffins.

Chouinard finished with six saves, while Highland goaltender Cole Ellis made five.

“A tie is frustrating, but it’s better than a loss,” Chouinard said. “We prefer a victory, but we will accept it. Our guys did well today and fought well.

Chouinard was in goal for the two biggest saves of the day for the Griffins.

After a Bulldogs shot on goal on the post in the 61st minute, the pressure was on the FMCHS defense.

Another shot on goal was on target for the Bulldogs in the 63rd minute, but Chouinard made a diving save to keep the game tied, and again made another save a few minutes later.

“It was pretty stressful,” said FMCHS second defender Spencer Sundberg. “You just have to take your time and not worry too much.”

Sundberg was a defensive force, stopping several shooting opportunities throughout the game.

“There are positives from today,” Sundberg said. “We played well defensively and got on well physically with them. We have not been beaten.

McVicar added: “It’s very stressful. With physical play like this on both sides, any ball that isn’t attacked can be pierced. We held on and played a tough game.

The last push of the Griffins offense came in the 74e minute, with Owen Terrell and Aaron Broadwater getting shots on goal but couldn’t capitalize as Ellis made key saves.

The Griffins also saw shots from Mason Holmes and Daniel Gierer.

“It was like things were starting to click,” McVicar said. “Thanks to Highland for playing a tough game.”

With the Griffins in Class 1A and the Bulldogs in Class 2A, McVicar was pleased with the team’s performance.

“We’re just playing a tough game against Marquette Catholic, so playing against a bigger school like that is good,” McVicar said.

The tie follows a 3-1 loss to Gateway Metro Conference opponent Marquette Catholic on Thursday.

The Griffins next host Freeburg at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday.