By Brad Fauber
STEPHENS CITY -- Just one day after needing overtime to beat Spotswood, Sherando's boys soccer team once again found itself in a closely contested match with visiting Handley on Tuesday that required extra time at the end of regulation.
Unlike Monday's match, however, the Warriors were unable to come up with a clutch goal -- or any goal at all during the 90 minutes of action, for that matter -- and Tuesday's Northwestern District clash ended in a scoreless tie.
"A tie is like kissing your sister I guess, but we're proud of the way they played after playing last night and then again tonight, coming and playing these guys," Warriors coach Patrick Anderson said. "We would've like to have had a win, but they're a good team and we'll take it. The district is wide open as always."
Sherando (8-1-1, 3-0-1 Northwestern) entered Tuesday's match as the lone unbeaten team in district play, but Handley did it's best to try to change that.
The Judges (3-5-1, 1-1-1) withstood an early surge by the Warriors' offensive attack, as Sherando fired three shots in the game's first five minutes but came up empty each time. Sherando nearly scored in the fifth minute, but senior Alex Burns' header attempt off a throw-in near the goal bounced off the left post.
After that, both teams settled in, and meaningful attacks on goal by both teams were a rare occurrence.
"We got some good opportunities ... but not as many as we would have liked to," Anderson said. "It was kind of like a little heavyweight fight back and forth between each other, kind of punching in the midfield but neither of us could get much going on the offensive side of the ball."
Sherando outshot the Judges six to four in the first half, and none of Handley's shot attempts came from inside the penalty box.
That changed in the second half and in overtime, as the Judges began to push the tempo and got a few looks at the goal from within 18 yards. Handley ended up outshooting the Warriors 12 to 11.
"I thought we started to gain momentum in the second half, we started to come out a little bit more," Judges coach Cosmo Balio said. "I thought overall this was a good confidence booster for us.
"[Sherando is] the class of the district and we are happy to come out of here with a tie today."
Balio praised the effort of his defense and goal keeper Cole Stevens, a sophomore making just his second varsity start. Stevens ended the match with three saves, all of which came in the first half.
Sherando keeper Rodrigo Casteriana recorded five saves.
Anderson said there were moments in Tuesday's match where the Warriors suffered from some mental lapses, and the Judges routinely beat Sherando to 50-50 balls.
""We just kind of got in that lull and we were not there mentally at certain spurts," Anderson said. "Winning 50-50 balls was the biggest thing tonight for us. I think they beat us to most of the balls. We did a lot of chasing tonight and that ended up costing us."
Sherando will get another break from district play as they travel to Liberty on Friday before returning to district action next week with matches against James Wood and Millbrook.
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or email@example.com