By Jerry Holsworth - firstname.lastname@example.org
STEPHENS CITY -- Friday night's boys soccer game between James Wood and Sherando was the type of game local soccer fans have come to expect. It was a physical, emotional game played by two teams determined to win.
It also came down to the wire with the Warriors scoring on a header off a corner kick in the final seconds of the game to win in overtime, 1-0.
"This was just a typical James Wood-Sherando game," Sherando coach Pat Anderson said. "I thought that it would be a one-goal game either way."
For the Colonels, the loss was just as frustrating as the win was exhilarating for the Warriors.
"We're very disappointed," Colonels coach Chris Hild said. "Both teams played a great game. For 10 seconds at the very end they had their way. That was the difference."
To make matters even more interesting, the game was played in unusually cold, windy conditions.
"I actually thought that the wind played in our favor," Hild said. "Our defense did a good job of keeping them away from the goal, and we kept the ball on the ground for most of the game."
Neither side held a decided advantage during the game. The final score rode on a corner kick with the clock winding down in the second overtime. Sherando's Brenton Curtis launched the kick to the right side, and it looked as though it was gong to sail long. But Michael O'Connell came rushing in and headed the ball at James Wood goalkeeper Jhaveir Neel's feet, and it bounced past him into the net.
"I was at the top of the box, and we had a set play set up for the corner kick," O'Connell. "Brent just sent a perfect ball into the penalty box and I headed past their goalkeeper."
With the wind at their back, James Wood controlled play for most of the first half. The Colonels outshot the Warriors 6-4 over the first 40 minutes of play, but the closeness of the shots taken was deceiving. Sherando goalkeeper Zach Santimer was forced to make saves on five of James Wood's six shots, while Neel was only required to make two over the same period.
With the wind change in the second half, Sherando was able to use the long ball to its advantage and the game turned in their favor. The Warriors pressed hard, and got off four second-half shots to James Wood's none. That didn't matter though, as neither team was able to put the ball in the net.
"It was a very intense game," Sherando fullback Zach James said. "We're arch-rivals, and this game was for the right to hold our heads up. We really came together as a team for this one, but their defense held their ground and made things really tough."
With neither side able to score in regulation play, the game headed to two five-minute overtimes, and the intensity grew even more.
"We expected this game to be very intense and very physical," Hild said. "It's a big rivalry. I thought that it was also a lot of fun for the players on both teams."
Despite the rivalry and the intensity of the game, both teams showed signs of fatigue during the last 10 minutes of play.
James Wood got the first shot off in overtime when Matthew Henriques smashed a ball from 20 yards out from the right wing. Santimer was able to make the save, however.
Sherando got a shot off just 10 seconds later, but missed it to the right.
With three minutes left in the second overtime, the Warriors got another chance. A free kick by Graham Siegfried was headed at the goal by Hunter Haymaker, but Neel made a spectacular save to keep the game scoreless.
Two minutes later, Curtis and O'Connell got another chance and then finished it for the win.