By Brad Fauber - firstname.lastname@example.org
STEPHENS CITY -- In a match where goals were hard to come by, visiting James Wood needed every bit of the game clock as the Colonels took on Northwestern District rival Sherando on Tuesday.
The Colonels were the beneficiary of some late-match heroics as senior midfielder Spencer Marfing found the back of the net with less than two minutes to play, giving the defending district champions a wild 2-1 win in their first district contest of the season.
"We wanted to show the district that we're here to play this season, as well," Marfing said. "I think we did that tonight -- that was the main goal."
With the score knotted at 1-all and time ticking away, Colonels junior forward Jonathan Henriques gathered the ball along the left sideline and pushed it down the field while several Sherando defenders followed suit.
Henriques dribbled the ball deep into the Warriors' side of the field before finding Marfing inside the penalty area, and Marfing used some nifty footwork to shake a Sherando defender to open a shooting lane.
Marfing then fired a shot from about 10 yards out, and the ball sailed by Sherando keeper Rodrigo Casteriana and into the right corner of the net to break the tie and seal the victory.
"The ball came quickly from [James Wood's] end and I had a ball right there," Henriques said. "I saw the defenders split open and Spencer was right there in the middle."
"That was a ball that we played to [Henriques] and he was kind of taking down to the goal line to hope for a cross [pass] or something," Marfing said. "But once that wasn't really available, he cut it back and the defenders just kind of split open. I knew he'd be looking at the top of the box, so I got there."
Both teams battled through 65 scoreless minutes to open the match before Sherando finally broke through for the evening's first goal.
Less than 30 seconds after a controversial ruling awarded a free kick to the Warriors (1-5, 0-1 Northwestern) despite the James Wood foul appearing to have occurred in the penalty box, Sherando senior Taylor Ruths knocked in a shot from the right corner of the penalty area to give the Warriors the lead with 14 minutes to play.
The goal had the potential to be a crushing blow to the Colonels, but James Wood (3-1, 1-0) responded just one minute later when Marfing was tripped while trying to split a pair of Sherando defenders in the penalty box. Marfing converted the penalty kick with 13 minutes remaining give the Colonels some much needed momentum.
"That was my concern -- were we going to clam up and call it a night?" Colonels coach Chris Hild said of Sherando's goal. "It was close to the end of the game, but we were reluctant. My leaders took over and stepped up on the field and came back. Obviously, Spencer dribbling down the field and getting that [penalty kick] for the team was huge."
For Sherando, the quick response by James Wood was deflating as the Warriors saw their lead, and momentum, last a grand total of 60 seconds.
"The first five minutes after a goal is the most important, and you let them right back in it," Warriors coach Patrick Anderson said. "We had momentum on our side with 15 minutes left. We did it to ourselves, that's for sure."
James Wood finished with 12 shots on goal, while Sherando tallied eight. Colonels keeper Francis Kysela recorded five saves, and Casteriana had seven saves for the Warriors.