For the second time this season, Fredonia beat CCAA Division 1 boys' soccer arch-rival Dunkirk on an own-goal, dropping the Marauders, 2-1, in overtime.
"It's kind of unheard of to have two own-goals against your arch rival in one season," Dunkirk head coach Brian Crawford said. "It's tough to handle for these kids, it's tough to handle as a program, but the one credit I can give them is they are constantly fighting and they are constantly working through it. It's been an extremely tough season for us, but they keep showing up to play."
"When the ball bounces around like that in front of the goal that many times, something's going to happen," Fredonia head coach Jeff Walker said.
OBSERVER?Photos by Craig Harvey
Dunkirk’s Jesus Rojas takes an indirect kick during Tuesday’s CCAA?Division 1 boys’ high school soccer game against Fredonia.
On the play, Dunkirk keeper Nick Kobel made a flurry of point-blank saves before a clearing attempt by Josh Berakah bounced off the goalie's back and into the net.
"I'm not blaming anybody on our team for this one," Crawford said. "It was just one of the ways the ball bounces and goes into our net. But I thought Nicky played a very good game. I thought Josh Berakah played a very good game on the defensive end. (Berakah's) taking it pretty hard, but again, all he was trying to do was clear the ball and it was a bad bounce and it went into our net."
Fredonia opened the scoring in the first half in the 21st minute, as good ball movement from the right side of the Dunkirk net set up Matt Sheridan with a shot from just outside the 18-yard box, where he blasted a low liner past a diving Kobel.
"It was nice," Walker said of the Sheridan goal. "We've been working all season long on having our defense push up on balls like that and that was one of the times it paid off."
"Nicky said he felt like a cartoon character, just running in place in the mud," Crawford said. "I thought he might have maybe been a step out of position, but I think again, the factor of the field, it's a little slick, it looked like he couldn't gain much traction to go get the ball. But then again, it was also a very well struck ball by (Sheridan). He put a nice strike on it."
The Hillbillies dictated the pace of the game for nearly the entire first half, but came out flat in the second half.
"We came out a little flat," Walker said of the second half. "We moved a bunch of guys around just trying some different things and it didn't work as well."
The Marauders took advantage of the Hillbillies' lapse in effort, getting the tying goal late in regulation, as senior Drew Messina worked a shot over Hillbillies' keeper Nick Hart's head, that rattled off the cross bar, then bounced off the left goal post, before coming to rest just inside the right post.
"It obviously re-energized us," Crawford said. "We had a philosophy going into today's game and I don't think we executed it very well at points, but their were flashes, and sparks in between. We executed one time in the second half, we capitalized on it and then it re-energized us.
"I think our effort was there," Crawford said. "We knew what type of team Fredonia was. They're a tough-playing team. They're scrappy. They move the ball very well and we knew what we had to do against them. But I'll take my kids any time with their effort. They just keep coming. They have a never-say-die attitude and they don't quit. That's all I can ask of them."
Dunkirk could not capitalize on the momentum switch, however, as Fredonia earned its second win over its arch-rival.
"I thought we'd bounce back from it," Walker said of his team after Dunkirk tied the game. "It was just a little bit of miscommunication on our part and (Dunkirk) got one in."
Kobel, who was tested often by the Hillbillies, finished with 17 saves on the night.
"He's a little upset with the way he handled the (Sheridan goal)," Crawford said of Kobel. "He made four brilliant saves at the end to keep the ball out. It just seems to be the way our season's going. One bounce here or there and it cost us the game."
Kobel's counterpart, Hart, was not tested as often, but made his presence felt in other ways.
"Nick does a great job and controls the defense pretty well," Walker said of Hart. "He does a nice job."
Despite the win, Walker knows his team still has work to do as it gets ready for the Section 6 playoffs.
"We've still got to work on finishing," Walker said. "We create a lot of opportunities, but we've got to work on getting the ball in the back of the net."