John Bruce, Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE — Soccer is unique in a lot of ways, some of which non-fans deem to be unsatisfying.
One of those unique occurrences in soccer is that of the tie. But, if you were at Herrnstein Field on Thursday night, as a fan, it is very unlikely that the tie between Unioto and Chillicothe would have been unsatisfying to you.
In an instant classic between the two neighboring schools, the Shermans and Cavaliers finished in an exciting 2-2 deadlock — one that neither team should hang their heads about.
Following an extended weather delay that wiped out all but 25 minutes of the junior varsity contest, the Cavaliers (1-0-1) came out of the gates with extreme effort and pace.
Within the first 10 minutes, Chillicothe completely controlled the ball and tempo, peppering Unioto goalie Micah Geise with three quick shots and six corner kicks. But the junior and his defense held strong, keeping the Cavs off the board.
On the sixth corner kick, the Tanks (1-0-1) were able to get out on the counter-attack with Antonio Cruz hitting a streaking Lucas Hanes up the right sideline. Hanes would get a step on his defender and play a perfect cross to River Pettigrew, who was fouled in the box, leading to a penalty kick.
With 29:22 to play in the opening half, Hanes calmly looked off the goalkeeper and drilled the shot into the back corner of the net to give the Shermans an early 1-0 lead.
Less than five minutes later, Hanes struck again. The sophomore netted his second of the night — and fifth in two games — after Antonio Cruz sent in a scintillating low cross that Hanes got just enough of to put the Tanks in front 2-0.
A lesser team than the Cavaliers would have folded its tents and taken the loss. But only three minutes after falling behind 2-0, senior Brady Wood got behind the Shermans’ defense, drawing multiple defenders his way, before dishing it off to classmate Isaac Crawford, who put the Cavaliers on the board to cut the Shermans’ lead in half.
Over the next twenty minutes, both teams’ defenses stepped up to the challenge and maintained the score. Unioto’s Cameron Thompson — moving back to defense from the midfield to replace the injured Asher McBee — Ashton Sigler, Ricardo Arrendondo and Joe Lafreniere raised their game to combat the attack from Wood, Crawford and Danny Bentley. Meanwhile, Chillicothe’s Schylar Srey, Mason Siberell, Michael Lapurga and Justin Rubia combined to keep Hanes, Pettigrew and JC Stark at bay.
With both teams at a near stalemate, it took the effort and speed of a true freshman to ultimately change the scoreboard.
Chillicothe’s Isaac Herlihy came off the Cavaliers’ bench, went into the midfield and immediately made a difference in the game. He was constantly attacking the Shermans’ backline with effort and intensity, in spite of his size. With only 1:27 to play in the first half, Herlihy played a picture-perfect ball into space that Wood reached before Geise could get to it. Wood neatly chipped it into the back of the net to send the teams into the locker room knotted at 2-2.
Without question, most fans believed the scoring was far from over. But that thought would be incorrect, largely due to the outstanding goalkeeping of Geise and Chillicothe’s Jack Huggins. Both keepers made clutch saves in the final five minutes, which ultimately led to the final score staying at 2-2.
Unioto’s Cameron Kendrick drew a foul about 25 yards from the goal with under five minutes to play. That led to a scorching free kick from Pettigrew that quickly got onto Huggins, but the Cavaliers’ keeper was able to corral it before Hanes could put the rebound in.
With three minutes to play, Chillicothe’s Landon Cox broke free and had a one-one-one with Geise. Cox sent a low shot towards the far goal post, but Geise sprawled to his right and just barely slowed the ball down. That’s when Ashton Sigler appeared to come from nowhere and save the ball off the goal line to preserve the tie.
In the run of the game, the Cavaliers owned the advantage in shot attempts and possession, but the Shermans’ defenders were able to block the majority of the attempts from range, while not allowing many shots within 20 yards. The Shermans did an outstanding job on the counter-attack, while also being sound defensively, despite being without a four-year starter in McBee.
The Shermans will next be in action on Monday as they host Fairfield Union, who’s 3-0, while Chillicothe will host FAC foe McClain on Tuesday evening.
29:22: Unioto, Lucas Hanes (4th on season)
25:06: Unioto, Hanes (5th); Kamden Smith assist
22:10: Chillicothe, Isaac Crawford (1st); Brady Wood assist
01:27: Chillicothe, Wood (3rd); Isaac Herlihy assist
|8 (Pettigrew 4)||Shots||20 (Wood 7)|
|4||Shots on Goal||8|
|6 — Geise||Saves||2 — Huggins|