Cavaliers tie Mounties in intense match
One hundred minutes wasn’t enough time to determine which team was better Wednesday night as East Rutherford and Kings Mountain ended an intense soccer match in a 2-2 tie.
But for a team that’s been struggling recently, the Cavaliers are happy with a draw.
“Tonight was the first time that we’re actually come together as a team,” East Rutherford head coach Neil Van Dyke said. “We had some early success this season but we’ve gone through a rough stretch and lost that momentum so we’re trying to gain a little bit back.”
The 100 -minute match was strenuous for both sides, but Van Dyke relishes the nail-biters.
“If we played the way we played tonight for 100 minutes, I’m so dialed in that I could go for 200 minutes,” Van Dyke said. “The kids would die but I enjoy a game like this.”
The Cavaliers landed the first blow just 21 seconds into the match when freshman midfielder Daniel Crane put a line drive into the back of the net from the right side of the box for a 1-0 lead.
East had a chance to double its lead 80 second later on a free kick, but Bryan Cruz’s shot attempt from 10 yards out sailed over the crossbar.
“The early goal was big but, to me, I was more impressed with how they stayed on the gas peal and kept the pressure on,” Van Dyke said.
Kings Mountain settled in and put two shots into the net over the next two minutes, unfortunately for the Mountaineers, each goal was wiped off the scoreboard with offside calls.
In the 15th minute King Mountain’s Robert Baker knotted the score at 1-1 when he poked the ball over Cavalier keeper C.J. Warren during a scrum in front of the goal.
In the second half, East Rutherford’s Jeremiah Johnson narrowly missed a highlight reel goal in the 50th minute when his shot from 25 yards out inched over the Kings Mountain keeper’s fingers but also cleared the crossbar.
The Mountaineers claimed its first lead of the night in the 53rd minute when Baker outran the Cavalier defense to the penalty box and chipped a shot over a charging Warren and into the net from 16 yards out for his second goal.
However, the Mountaineer lasted less than 60 seconds thanks to a Ricardo Hernandez goal in the 54th minute to tie the score at 2-2.
“Ricardo Hernandez was incredible tonight,” Van Dyke said. “We found a combination that works with him at outside midfield. I was impressed with his defense and his discipline on the outside.”
Hernandez was one of a handful of Cavalier freshmen that impressed Van Dyke.
“We had freshman that stepped up big tonight,” Van Dyke said. “They want some playing time and they’re hungry for it.”
Baker made a bid for a hat trick in the 75th minute as he outran East’s Josh Jenkins for a one-on-one attack on the goal against Warren. But Jenkins recovered and challenged Baker as he lost control of the ball and forced him into an errant, inaccurate shot that Warren corralled.
Warren made two more saves in the final minute and forced the game into overtime.
East Rutherford appeared to score the go-ahead goal in the 86th minute after a corner kick, but another offside call erased the score.
In the second overtime period, Baker missed another golden shot for a hat trick when a close range shot bounced off the crossbar and back into play before the Cavalier defense cleared the threat.
The final minutes ticked off the clock and the match ended in a 2-2 draw.
“We’ve given some solid efforts this year but not a whole 80 minutes so tonight was nice,” Van Dyke said. “It would be massive for these guys if we can match this effort with even better results.”
East Rutherford returns to action Monday at East Burke.
“Tonight is huge for us because we’re in a stretch going against teams where we can be competitive,” Van Dyke said. “We’ll take our successes where we can and take the momentum with us.”