By Jerry Holsworth - firstname.lastname@example.org
STEPHENS CITY -- Sherando's boys soccer team needed a victory to stay in the race for the Northwestern District regular season crown. The Warriors didn't get the win, settling for a tie with a determined Pioneer team, 1-1. The tie clinches the district title for Handley.
The game was extremely physical with five yellow cards issued to the two teams, and was the kind of game that's becoming commonplace among Frederick County high schools.
"They really came at us," Sherando coach Pat Anderson said. "We really struggled on offense against their defense. But our goalkeeper made several terrific saves to keep us in the game. They're a good team, and this type of game is becoming typical among the Frederick County schools."
Millbrook dominated play in the first half, out-shooting the Warriors ,7-3. Freshman goalkeeper Rodrigo Cateriana, however, was equal to the task for Sherando. Moved up from the junior varsity after an injury to Warrior starter Zach Santimer, Cateriana made four difficult saves in the first half that kept the game scoreless after 40 minutes.
The Warriors' physical play had almost no effect on the Pioneers, who matched them blow for blow in the battles for the ball.
"After their first yellow card, we started answering them in kind," Millbrook coach Keith Kilmer said. "We wanted to put them on their heels, and I think that we did that. Who knows, maybe we'll see them in the playoffs. We showed tonight that we're fired up and ready."
Kilmer's words were matched by the Pioneers' play on the field. Millbrook's two yellow cards in the second half nearly matched Sherando's three in the first half.
Despite the Pioneers' play, the Warriors were far from throwing in the towel.
"We play a physical game," Warrior center back Robert Strausbaugh said. "That's our game, and we're not going to change that for anyone. But it was really exciting to play in this game. They really came at us."
Midway through the second half, Sherando's determination finally paid off, but it took a perfect pass.
With 20:35 left in the scoreless game, Sean Lewis crossed the ball into the penalty box from right wing. The Warrior senior's ball seemed to have eyes as it passed through a mass of bodies.
"We were a little out of position," Millbrook goalkeeper Trae Drexler said. "But it was just a perfect ball."
Michael O'Connell, who volleyed Lewis' pass into the net for the first goal of the game, agreed.
"Sean just hit a beautiful ball," O'Connell said. "I just kicked it in."
With the Warriors up 1-0, the Pioneers began to press hard for the equalizer, and they got it from the last player you would expect to be in Sherando's penalty area.
With about a minute left in the game, Chris Barrette crossed the ball from right wing. It sailed completely past the goal to the left and Millbrook sweeper Alex Barrette was there to blast it into the net from 12 yards out.
The Barrette brothers' last-minute heroics sent the game into overtime, and the Pioneers kept pressing hard for the win. Out-shooting Sherando 4-2, Millbrook came within inches of stealing the win in the first overtime.
With Pioneer midfielder Ryan Runion racing for a loose ball in the penalty area, Cateriana came out of the goal to make the play.
"I knew that I wasn't going to get a clear shot at it, so I tried to meet him there and get the deflection," Runion said.
Cateriana made the play, but the ball went past him and was headed for the goal. At the last moment, however, Strausbaugh cleared it away too.
"When the goalkeeper goes out like that, I'm supposed to cover the goal," Strausbaugh said. "But that was really close."