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Warrior Run goalie Bender helps Defenders top Central Columbia in boys soccer

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Central Columbia goalkeeper Maddix Karnes can't stop a shot by Warrior Run's Kaden Majcher late in the second half of Thursday's boys soccer game at Warrior Run.

TURBOTVILLE — With the soccer ball hurtling in his direction, Warrior Run goalkeeper Duncan Bender took one step backward. Then another, almost as if he was in slow motion. But the senior was in complete control of what he was doing.

Bender was looking for that mesh point where he could raise a hand and knock the bending free kick over the crossbar. With the Defenders holding on to a one-goal lead midway through the second half against Central Columbia on Thursday, it was imperative he found that point.

With a flick of his wrist, Bender sent the ball on a new trajectory out of harm’s way. He didn’t have many chances to defend the goal yesterday, but he succeeded in the ones he did have. Kaden Majcher and the Warrior Run offense took care of the other side of the field, scoring three goals over the final 12 minutes to give the Defenders a 4-0 win.

Warrior Run remains undefeated both overall and in Division II of the Heartland Conference despite playing without a number of key players yesterday. Central Columbia lost for the fifth consecutive game.

“I look at everything. I loo at all the options before they take the kick,” Bender said of the free kick. “I set up my wall so it’s on one side of the field and I can get into position. And at all times I’m thinking about every outcome that can happen.”

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Warrior Run's Kaden Majcher (34) heads the ball over Central Columbia's Jack Burkhart in the first half.

Bender came off his line in the goal for the free kick, choosing to play out near the edge of the 6-yard box. A teammate on the bench yelled to Central freshman forward Steven Brink about Bender being off his line. Brink’s kick from about 30 yards out was the perfect mix of power – moving with enough pace to force Bender to react quickly – and finesse to go over Bender’s head but still be able to sneak under the crossbar.

But Bender had seen this situation before. He knew how to react. He knew there was a point he could get to where everything would be fine. And that’s the point Bender got to, coiling his body to provide the explosiveness he needed to flick the ball away.

“Those are shots where it’s all my decision how I want to play it,” Bender said. “Some goalies like to stay back on the line. Some like to move forward and pop up. I know I can get back pretty fast if I have to and pop up.”

“If you score that first one and tie the game, it’s a huge difference,” Central coach Greg Laubach said. “We had another one that went off the bar. Another one we got in behind and just pushed it wide. But we had some chances.”

Thursday’s game was a far cry from the two teams’ previous matchup just five days prior which Warrior Run won, 7-0. In that first contest the Defenders had pulled ahead, 4-0, at halftime. But it took 28 minutes yesterday for the Defenders to take a lead. It was another 30 minutes before it scored its second goal.

In between, Central Columbia packed in the defense. Warrior Run’s offensive third passing left something to be desired in the first half as it missed feet on key passes on the dried out, bumpy playing surface. But the touches were still good enough to find openings. Unfortunately for Warrior Run, all those opening were coming from outside the 18-yard box. Warrior Run fired off 11 shots in the first half, but only three were on goal.

The Defenders didn’t break through until the 28th minute when Tanner Polcyn sent a cross from the left side to the far post. There, Majcher headed the ball back to Logan Confer who buried a shot past Central keeper Maddix Karnes. It was the closest opportunity the Defenders got in the first half, and they capitalized.

“We were just a little bit off and we needed to clean up our passes,” said Majcher, who scored a pair of goals and added and assist. “We need to put shots on the frame. We worked the ball up to those points, but the shots didn’t turn out the way we wanted them.”

Warrior Run 4,

Central Columbia 0

WR – Logan Confer (Kaden Majcher, Tanner Polcyn), 27:28; WR – Kaden Majcher (Logan Confer), 57:29; WR – Kaden Majcher (penalty kick), 59:10; WR – Alex Brown (Hayden DuRussell), 79:14.

Shots: Warrior Run 10, Central Columbia 4. Corners: Warrior Run 4, Central Columbia 2. Saves: Central Columbia 5 (Maddix Karnes), Warrior Run 3 (Duncan Bender).

Records: Warrior Run (5-0, 4-0 HAC II), Central Columbia (1-5, 1-5 HAC-II).

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