SMYRNA -- Overtime wasn’t going to be enough between the Smyrna Bulldogs and the Station Camp Bison soccer teams on Thursday night. The Bison rallied from a two-goal deficit to take a 3-2 win over Smyrna in double overtime to seal the region title and ensure they would host their sectional match.
As the sun began to set, the tension began to rise in the second overtime of a 2-2 tie. Station Camp’s Donovan Smith dribbled the ball down the right wing toward the Smyrna net. Noah Blackwell looked toward Smith and took off in a dead sprint toward the front of the net as Smith stopped his dribble, looked to his left, and lifted a pass over the heads of the Bulldog defense.
Three-fourths of the Smyrna net was wide open, Blackwell’s eyes opened wide as he fixated on the open net as he rifled a shot that erased what was once a two-goal deficit and giving Station Camp its only lead of the night.
The Station Camp second-half substitute’s goal was the deciding factor in the 3-2 double-overtime win.
“I didn’t even celebrate (Blackwell’s goal) because I was in so much shock,” Station Camp coach Jeremy Cooke said. “It was a hard ball across and I didn’t think (Blackwell) was going to get to it, but he put it in the back of the net. I was excited afterward, but the initial feeling was mostly shock.”
Blackwell’s goal likely wasn’t the only time Cooke was shocked, as his team was in a 2-0 hole with 34:47 left in the game.
Down a man for much of the afternoon, the Bulldog offense got off to a fast start in both the first and second halves to net themselves the two-goal advantage.
Smyrna’s first goal came from one of its most reliable players in midfielder in Kevin Avalos. The sophomore scored his 18th goal of the season less than 10 minutes after the games opening kick.
With the ball deep in the Bulldog zone, Smyrna’s Makaryous Kelini’s attempt to clear the ball ended up turning into a foot race in which Avalos won, making a nifty move to juke a pair of Bison defenders to net the game’s first goal.
The Bulldogs rode that momentum into the second half when they got an insurance goal from striker Kyaw Moe when he snuck one past Station Camp goalkeeper T.C. Craig to push the lead to two goals.
“We came out really strong,” Smyrna coach Brian Grogan said. “I honestly felt like we were pretty much the stronger team for most of the first half and even going into the second half.
“Unfortunately, being down a man (in the second half) is tough. But with their postseason experience and the weight that carries, I think the pressure is ultimately what got us.”
Cade Maclean’s late second-half goal is what ultimately saved it for Station Camp. Following a Riley Indermuehle goal that cut the Bulldog lead to one, the clock began to wind down quickly in the second half.
Blackwell looked to pass from the corner. Maclean, who also came off the bench in the second half, slipped behind the Smyrna defense.
Amidst the chaos, Blackwell was able to find his teammate, who scored an emotional game-tying goal that wound up sending the game to overtime.
“Right now, we’re going to celebrate (the win) and just keep moving forward,” Cooke said.