Wednesday night’s World Series game 7 was called an “instant classic.” The Chicago Cubs won their first World Series title in 108 years, but only after the Indians made a comeback to tie the game in the 8th inning.
Less than 24 hours later at Mansion Park, the District 5-6 boys’ soccer Class AA Championship match felt similar.
Bald Eagle Area tied the game up with 2:28 remaining but later fell with 28 seconds remaining in overtime to No. 1 Everett, 2-1.
The Warriors put the pressure on early with a couple chances and had a lot of possession early in the first half. However, the Eagles’ defense stood strong, not allowing any clear opportunities.
“(Bald Eagle Area was) a fantastic defensive team all game long,” Everett coach Brad Zembower said. “They really took away our style for 85 percent of that game minus our first goal, only late in the game did we find ourselves a bit.”
BEA responded with many chances of its own as it started to control the game for a bit. Everett goalkeeper Joe Koontz had a couple of saves from Eagles’ crosses, but there were no clear chances for BEA.
The best chance of the first half for either team came with 1 1/2 minutes left. The ball was crossed into the box to the far side to see the shot go wide leaving the first half scoreless.
The second half started with the Eagles attacking early through Seth Koleno, who had two close shots from outside the box as both teams were searching for the opener.
With 8:45 left in regulation, Bailey Foor was able to head in a cross from the left side to give Everett the lead and all of the momentum. Fifty-five seconds later, BEA was awarded an injury timeout and were given a breather to talk things over.
“We just encouraged our guys not to quit, we’ve come too far and we’re not going to let down and they believed in themselves,” BEA coach Jason Bair said.
With less than three minutes remaining, someone stepped up for the Eagles. Garret Giedroc dribbled around a few Everett defenders trying to find Koleno, but the ball found its way to senior Joey Gates. Gates buried the goal with 2:28 to tie the game and give life back to BEA.
“Our senior Joey Gates runs through the ball and puts it in the back of the net. I was so excited for him,” Bair said. “The thing that is so cool about this team is that they don’t give up. With eight minutes to go they thought they were done, the stands thought they were done and they put the ball in the back of the net to give them new life.”
“(Joey’s) the emotional leader of our team,” said BEA junior Jared Gettig. “There’s no question about that. He hasn’t had many chances to score this year, but when he needs to, he puts us on his shoulders no matter what he does.”
Overtime began and both teams were trading shots, with none of them finding the back of the net.
With only 28 seconds remaining, Dustin Mallow kicked the ball for the first time off of a poor clearance. The ball was put in the bottom right corner past the outreached arm of Hunter Etters to give Everett their first district title in school history.
“I just took a big touch and saw an opening and put it in the bottom of the goal,” Mallow said. “I figured I try and put it low and hard. We’ve never made it past the first round in school history so it’s indescribable.”
“I didn’t see the goal as I was getting ready for the second overtime,” Bair said, “but my players saw what happened and they were devastated.”
However, unlike the Cleveland Indians, BEA’s season is not over as they will play in the first round of the PIAA playoffs next Tuesday and Gettig is ready to keep the season going.
“If anything (this loss) gives us more fuel than heartbreak,” Gettig said. “I think this is going to push us to get better, work harder, to get in better shape even within these next couple days.”