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Pinecrest, Jack Britt Battle to 1-1 Tie in Soccer
October 14, 2011Pinecrest High School
By Charlie Bergmann The Pilot Newspaper:
Pinecrest and Jack Britt battled to a 1-1 tie Thursday evening in a boys’ soccer match between two streaking teams with conference titles already wrapped up.
Playing short-handed for the final 51 minutes of the match played in Fayetteville, the Patriots tied it up on a goal by Taylor Morton with just over four minutes remaining. The Buccaneers had taken a 1-0 lead with 15 minutes left on a direct kick by Corey Croegaert from the top of the penalty circle.
The Patriots (13-2-2) extended their unbeaten streak to 15 games, while the fifth-ranked Bucs (17-0-1) received the first blemish of any kind on their record this season.
“Like I said before the game, it meant more to them because they’re undefeated and playing on their home field,” Patriot coach Todd Abbey said. “For us it was another challenge on the road to our ultimate goal.
“In the second half we showed everything we had (in) coming back from a man down. There’s not much more I could ask from the guys on the field and the substitutes that came in. There was no level of drop off at all.”
A red card assessed against right back Morgan Van Camp for dissent late in the first half forced the Patriots to compete against the Mid-South Conference champion Bucs with 10 men. The Patriot backline of Nick Kruyer, Luke Lynch and Max Clare, with the help of a couple of diving saves by goalkeeper Mitchell Dotson, kept the match scoreless through the remainder of the first half and into the second.
As they did throughout, the Patriot backs kept their poise, mostly working the ball out through the midfield.
“That’s our game,” Clare said. “We’re not a kick it out and chase it team. We like to knock it around and outplay the other team. We did that tonight, but more in the second half. We came out slow.”
Abbey called the first half the team’s worst in his three years as coach, with the exception of the play by the defenders he described as phenomenal.
“At halftime, I didn’t say much,” he said. “I talked tactically more than anything. I think they knew where they were at — a man down with 60 minutes left against the No. 5 team in the state.
“What do you do? You can’t really yell at the boys. I had some constructive criticism about their language and why we’re playing with 10 men for the second game of the week.”
With just under 15 minutes remaining in the match, a Buc player was fouled just outside the Patriot penalty box. Croegaert, a teammate of a number of the Patriots on an AC Sandhills club team, somehow found a crack in the wall and tucked a low shot just out of Dotson’s reach inside the right post.
The visitors began sending the ball forward with more urgency. The equalizer came inside the five-minute mark with almost all of the Patriots pushed into the attacking third. The scoring sequence began with a back pass from Richard Palmer to right back Lynch located about 35 yards to the right of the goal.
“I stepped into it and tried not to hit it over — just enough to chip it over the defense, and Taylor was there,” Lynch said.
To the casual observer, it might have looked like three of the Patriots, including Morton, had broken to the goal too quickly into an offside position, anticipating the service from Lynch.
“The ball was played and they all stepped at the right time,” Abbey said. “The linesman was spot on.”
Morton could have made another pass, but made the correct decision in launching the shot from inside the penalty box to the left of the goal that found the net.
“I stayed on sides until it was hit and then tried to position myself where I thought it was going to land,” Morton said.
Kruyer liked the way his teammates responded to adversity and scratched out the draw.
“It’s always tough, playing a man down,” he said. “But I think we did a good job of staying tough, playing smart and keeping our heads in the game — and not really letting that affect how we played.”
The Patriots have three regular-season games and the Southeastern Conference tournament remaining before the state playoffs. They travel to Richmond Senior on Monday. If the Pats and Bucs each win their first two matches in the state tournament, the preliminary brackets point to a third-round meeting — probably at Jack Britt.
“I’d like to see them again where we can play them 11 on 11 the whole time and maybe work it around a little bit more,” Kruyer said. “It will be fun playing them again.”