The Sweet Home Panthers got up 2-0 on the Hamburg Bulldogs in the 1st half of an important ECIC Division II Boys soccer match-up but the Bulldogs battled back and tied the Panthers 2-2 on Friday night.
The game got off to a quick start as captain Patrick Hayter found the back of the net for Sweet Home.
Sweet Home Head Coach Scott Martin really counts on Hayter, both on and off the field, “He scores goals in big games. He’s a rock solid kid, great student-athlete, embodiment of what we want for the program.”
The Panthers scored again thanks to Aaron Robinson knocking one in with 8:55 left in the 1st half.
Just a few moments after the Robinson goal, Hamburg got a corner and Gabe Mastrangelo headed the ball into the net to put the Bulldogs on the board going into the half down one.
In the second half, it looked as though the Sweet Home was going to hold their lead, as the offense was attacking hard early. The Bulldogs never really got the ball near the Panther net in the first 15 minutes of the half. Robinson made a spectacular play on a breakaway beating three defenders, but his shot went over the net.
With 11 minutes’ left in the 2nd, captain Justin Weiskerger took advantage of the Sweet Home goalie being out of position and tied the game for the Bulldogs.
The game went to two 10-minute overtimes but neither team could score. Robinson had a chance at the very end to score but cramped up.
Although the game was a tie, Hamburg feels the result is a win for them. They have good reason to feel that way, with the draw the Bulldogs have the tiebreaker over Sweet Home thanks to a 1-0 win over the Panthers on September 6th and gain 2.5 points in the standings.
Martin doesn’t disagree with Hamburg about the result, “Well it feels like a loss right now. We couldn’t lose. If we lost we were probably out of the hunt (for an ECIC title),” Martin said. “We stress mental focus after we score and (Hamburg) scored within 2 minutes which gave them life and they kept grinding.”
In over 170 games with Martin at the helm, Sweet home has never lost when they scored first and Friday was the first time since 2010 that the Panthers settled for a tie after going up 2-0.
The Bulldogs came into Friday night pumped, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of these kids more hyped for a game. We knew this game was the fulcrum” said captain Sam Wright.
Going forward the goal for Hamburg is to win the ECIC Division II title. “Our goal is to win a league title and go as far as we can” said Weiskerger.
Hamburg is now in 4th place in the Class A1 playoff bracket and 3rd place in ECIC Division II, with five games left in the season. Sweet Home is in 5th place in the same playoff bracket and 4th in ECIC Division II, with 5 games of their own left in the season.
Hamburg (5-1-2, 7-2-2) will host Amherst (1-8-0, 1-11-0) and Sweet Home will host Iroquois (4-3-2, 5-6-2) both at 7pm on Tuesday.
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