By Brad Fauber
STEPHENS CITY -- Sherando could have easily fallen apart after visiting Spotswood scored a late goal to tie the match during Monday's boys soccer match.
It wasn't just that the goal came in the game's final two minutes, or that it erased a one-goal lead that the Warriors had held for much of the second half. It was the nature of the goal that could have proved devastating, as it came on a Spotswood free kick that somehow squirted through the arms of typically sure-handed goalkeeper Rodrigo Casteriana and eventually found its way into the back of the net.
But the Warriors shook off the goal, and Sherando cashed in with a goal midway through the second five-minute overtime period to escape with a 3-2 victory.
"That's not the way we wanted to plan it, but it was nice to see because [Spotswood is] vastly improved from the last time we played them," Warriors coach Patrick Anderson said. "It was just good to see that we came back after giving up that late goal on that set piece."
Sherando (8-1, 3-0 Northwestern) was held scoreless for a stretch of 37 minutes spanning the second half and overtime, but the Warriors finally found the back of the net with three minutes remaining in the extra period.
After a Sherando corner kick was punched out of bounds by Spotswood keeper Ian Benson to set up another Warriors corner, Sherando sophomore Andrew Wade sent the ball sailing into the penalty box and towards a mass of white and blue jerseys in front of the net.
The ball was headed into the air several times by players from both teams before Warriors senior Alex Burns got just enough of the ball to poke it past Benson to give Sherando the lead.
"We just had to get a bunch of people in the box. [Warriors senior Josh] Wagner played his part perfectly -- he got in the back and hit a perfect header. It wasn't even really me," Burns said. "I just got a flick off, Wagner just hit it perfectly. I got high enough on it and luckily I'm tall, so I just got a flick back post."
The lead would hold up for the Warriors, who were out-shot by the Trailblazers, 20-15, but still managed to win their fourth straight victory. Casteriana had five saves for Sherando, and Benson had six for Spotswood.
The Warriors struck first in the game's opening half, as junior Austin Wernecke found sophomore Tommy Buono open inside the penalty box with a pass, and Buono sent it into the net to give Sherando a 1-0 lead in the 27th minute.
The lead lasted just four minutes, however, as Trailblazers junior Michael Mejia sent a powerful shot from the top of the box past a diving Casteriana to tie the match at 1-1.
"I think at times we lost our composure, but when we were composed we played much better," Anderson said. "We lost it for a little bit at certain chunks of the game, but I think we seemed to find a little rhythm there at the end that seemed to work a little bit better for us."
The tie held up until halftime, and Sherando reclaimed the lead in the 50th minute on a goal by Wernecke. On the play, Warriors junior Andrew Mullan threw the ball in from the sideline deep into the box, and the ball bounced off Wernecke's chest and into the net.
"Seriously, I didn't even see the ball coming until it actually hit me," Wernecke said. "I was right behind the keeper and it somehow rolled in. It was just a right place at the right time kind of thing."
Sherando is back in action tonight when it hosts Handley in a big Northwestern District match-up.
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org