Keeper Bailey Geter leaps into a friends arms after the shootout win.
(Staff Photo by Christopher Dunn)
On Friday night, Sandy Creek and Fayette County waged a battle that will go down with the best of the best. The Patriots edged the Tigers out in a shootout for a 4-3 win on Friday.
With so many great soccer teams in the county, some squads might get overlooked. Both squads played with passion and fire and toughness in a match that awed the crowds.
"Both teams wanted to win. Both teams played a good game. It came down to the wire," said Sandy Creek coach Hunter Seegers. "We played our game. It was a close one, that's for sure."
The Patriots can look to the game as a big confidence booster. Despite trailing heading into the second half, the team stuck together.
"We've been working on making sure we stay focused and player our game and not let it go to our heads," said Seegers. "I think we did that tonight."
The Tigers left the game down after such a tough loss, but there's plenty to build on.
"I've got a few guys that are trying to take responsibility for the loss," said Fayette County coach Casey Colson. "The truth is we lost as a team and we need to pick each other up and move forward together."
Though it's little consolation to the Tigers, there's no shame is losing such a well played game.
After two halves and two overtime periods weren't enough, even five rounds of the shootout couldn't separate the two teams. Keepers Bailey Geter of Sandy Creek and Mat Sherry of Fayette were gritty in goal.
The separator came in the seventh round. Fayette's shooter was just high, his kick sailing over the goal to give the Patriots a chance to win. It looked like the shootout would roll on when Kendall Davidson's shot was block. Unfortunately for the Tigers, the shot wasn't fully corralled and it hit the ground and leaked over the goal line for the win.
It took a lot of action to get to that point. Sandy Creek started the scoring at 22:30 left with a crossing pass from Nikko Lopez that Hayden Billingsley headed in for a goal.
Midway through the half the Tigers evened up the tally. A foul in the box gave Fayette a penalty kick and Shawn Williams was spot on.
Just three minutes later the Tigers took the lead. Diego Milessi fed Jeff Sherry who drilled it home for a 2-1 lead heading into the half.
Sandy Creek's Arnol Spaniol kept firing until he found the net early in the second half. His first good look ricocheted off the right post. His next look was stopped with a great save by Matt Sherry. Finally, with 17:30 left, Spaniol redirected a rebound off a Christopher Avery shot to tie the game at 2-2.
Ten minutes later Avery took his turn. Avery corralled a misplayed ball and netted it for a 3-2 lead.
Fayette County was undeterred, scoring just 30 seconds later courtesy of Ryan Grbac.
Both teams had chances to end the game in regulation, but couldn't pull through. A strong Patriot attack with four minutes left was killed thanks to two big clearing boots by Carlos Naranjo and a huge save by Sherry. Christian Medrano nearly won it for the Tigers right before the buzzer, but his kicked was just a touch to high.
In the first overtime, the Tigers had a breakaway, but the lightning speed of SC's Davidson helped break up the opportunity. In the second overtime, Spaniol had a shot miss just high as well. Avery had a near goal of his own with 15 seconds left that was stopped.
The Lady Patriots won a defensive battle 2-0 in the opener behind two second half goals.
"We were off to a slow start and picked it up afterwards. When we finally went to the ball it looked a lot better," said Sandy Creek coach Silvia Riet. "Overall, it was a positive game. Whenever you win, it's a positive, but we still have a lot of work to do."
Sandy Creek had chances to score, but wouldn't light up the scoreboard until the early minutes of the second half. Freshman Sophia Bonser did the honors.
Fayette County's good defensive work kept the game tight. Their offense nearly knotted the game up with a couple good looks inside the box late.
The Patriots put the game away when Bonser struck again. Bonser got past the charging keeper, then worked past a sticky Tiger defender to find the net.
"She always has a pretty good night and she's a freshman," praised Riet. "She's got a ton of potential. She's a terrific player."
Bonser is joined on the Patriots by a host of girls with upside. As they play more together, they could do exciting things for the program.
"I've got a lot of young players that have a lot of potential right now. Part of our problem is we're new. We don't know each other well," Riet said. "As each game goes by, we get to know each other a little better and the players are starting to come a little bit easier. It will start to come together."