Aaron Anderson reared back and heaved the ball into the cool evening air.
The Evansville senior’s long throw-in landed squarely in the center of the 6-yard box.
And chaos ensued.
Seemingly a dozen players swung and missed and pushed and shoved as the ball bounced perilously along the goal line.
And then, somehow, amidst the mass of flailing legs and arms, the ball was in the net.
Jackson Stencel was credited with the game-winner in the 87th minute as the Blue Devils found an unlikely 3-2 Rock Valley Conference win over visiting Whitewater on Monday.
“It looked like a rugby scrum for a while,” Evansville coach Kendall Buttchen said of his side’s game-winning goal. “We don’t get that chance if he (Anderson) didn’t put that ball in the right spot in the box.
“The ball bounced around and didn’t get cleared, and we were in the right place at the right time.”
Evansville (6-2-4, 2-1-0 RVC) has taken six points from its first three league games and sits in third behind unbeatens McFarland and East Troy/Palmyra-Eagle. The Blue Devils also improved to 6-1-2 at home.
Whitewater (3-9-0) was excruciatingly close to seeing out a draw and claiming a much-needed point. Instead, the Whippets sank to 0-2 in league play.
“We played about 10 times better than we did last week,” Whitewater coach John Chenoworth said.
“When you’re playing that way, you’d like to at least walk away with a draw.”
Whitewater took advantage of an Evansville miscue to jump in front at 2:06. David Kromholz’s free kick from midfield dropped near the left post, and teammate Juan Cuellar Meza pounced on the rebound for his eighth goal of the season.
The Blue Devils equalized in the 16th minute, when Stencel turned and poked a shot at the goal while being guarded by two players. A Whitewater defender slid to clear the ball away but instead deflected it into his own net.
And each team then converted a penalty kick to close out a wild first half. Stencel got a fortunate bounce off the right post in the 33rd minute, while Whitewater’s Cristian Reyes coolly stuck his spot kick into the bottom-left corner in the 41st.
Whitewater will host Edgerton on Thursday, while Evansville will travel to East Troy/Palmyra-Eagle that same night.
EVANSVILLE 3, WHITEWATER 2
Whitewater 2 0—2
Evansville 2 1—3
WW—Juan Cuellar (David Kromholz), 2:06. E—Whitewater own goal, 16:36. E—Jackson Stencel (PK), 32:25. WW—Cristian Reyes (PK), 40:32.
Saves—Antwan Banda (WW) 8, Mason Huff (E) 2. Shots—WW 9, E 18. Shots on goal—WW 4, E 11. Corners—WW 3, E 7. Offsides—WW 1, E 3. Fouls—WW 9, E 6.