By Jeremy Stafford - firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- Millbrook girls soccer coach Stephanie Gladden wore an orange strip of pre-wrap, folded twice over itself, around her neck.
Around the wrists and arms of Gladden's players were black armbands with an orange No. 13 stitched into each one. The Pioneers bound orange athletic tape around their legs and ankles to secure their socks to their shin guards. Some stuck small strips of the orange tape to the sleeves and bottoms of their white Millbrook jerseys.
The scattered bits of orange were worn in memory of Hayden Ellias, a 10-year old boy who died during a Winchester United soccer match in 2007. Hayden was a keeper for United's U-11 soccer team; he died when an ill-secured goal fell on top of him.
Friday marked the three-year anniversary of Hayden's death.
"That's for [Hayden]," Gladden said. "We played for him tonight."
And in doing so, Millbrook earned its first-ever tie -- a 1-1 double overtime affair -- with Sherando, a team Millbrook has still never beaten.
When the teams met on April 13, Millbrook sported a 2-1 lead before Katie Teets and Lainie Weadon each scored a goal for Sherando in the match's final seven minutes.
Weadon's game-winner came in that match's final injury time.
Friday's match comprised a competition with far less scoring, but just as much desperation.
Twice Millbrook managed to push the ball inside the Sherando six-yard mark, and twice Sherando cleared the ball to midfield following prolonged sessions of nail-biting, hair-pulling scrums, which left the ball pinging back and forth in front of the goalmouth.
Most scoring opportunities for either team, though, were hardly as short-lived: Both held possession inside their offensive third, and both managed sprees of opportunities in strings of three and four shots before giving up identical sprees on the other end of the field.
The match had the air of a six-goal binge rather than a two-goal standstill.
"I'm proud of it," Millbrook junior Hallie Obleas said of the tie. "I think we're working our way up to getting the big win.
"So the next time we play, we're after it, just like we have been after every single game."
Obleas scored in the 16th minute when she cut to the top of the 18-yard mark from the right flank and sprung a shot into to the goals' top-left corner.
Weadon, Sherando's heroine nearly a month ago, took only three shots in the match, all of them headers, all of them sailing either too high or two wide. Teets, who scored twice in the teams' previous meeting, took a cross from Sherando junior Krista DeCeault in the final minute of Friday's second overtime, but couldn't secure a boot on the ball.
The match ended after Millbrook junior MacKenzie Witt sprinted down the left flank, played the ball to the right of Sherando fullback Rebecca Longenecker, and sent a screamer to the right of the goal.
Sherando keeper Brianna Hudnall dove to her left, nabbing the ball at the goal line.
"People don't realize how good [Hudnall] is because not many people get shots on us," Sherando coach Rob Kilmer said. "But we see it every day at practice because we shoot on her all the time.
"She's certainly one of the top goalies in the district, it's just no one ever sees it."
Sherando scored its goal in the 30th minute, when Weadon launched a corner kick to DeCeault, who headed the ball to junior Megan Sirbaugh, who headed the ball to the top of the 18.
Sophomore Morgan Sirbaugh blasted a shot off a Millbrook defender, settled the rebound and took a second shot with a bit more touch on it.
The ball dripped into the left side of the goal.
"It was right there and I really wanted it," Morgan Sirbaugh said. "We were already down a goal and I was not gonna lose."
Hudnall finished the match with five saves, and Millbrook keeper Olivia Mason finished with four. Sherando took 16 shots to Millbrook's nine, and took nearly three times as many free kicks (14) as the Pioneers (five).