As Cameron Lacey’s left-footed shot arced toward the upper left corner with under four minutes to play, Indian Creek and its supporters could feel the positive surge of extra time coming on. However, as was the case the rest of the second half, his shot was just inches high, caroming off the top bar and out to the left.
Close chances and shots barely missing were the story of the second half, as the Eagles lost at home to Pallotti in Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association C Conference play, 2-1, on Wednesday.
“We are incredibly disappointed,” Indian Creek coach Conor Porter said. “We dominate the second half and, with a little luck, we score another two to three goals, but that is just how it goes sometimes.”
Porter’s squad had to chase the Panthers (6-5, 6-4 C Conference) from early on, as Nathan Davidson scored off a David Meyers corner kick in the second minute to give Pallotti the early lead.
“A team like Indian Creek, as good as they are, to get an early goal is a very good thing, but we knew it was not close to being over,” Pallotti coach Steve Shurman said.
Lacey was high on his first shot attempt in the sixth minute, but Indian Creek (4-5-1, 4-4-1) evened things in the 15th minute when Sammy Carter scored from 20 yards out off a pass from Rex Flanagan. Carter leads the Eagles in scoring with 10 goals.
“They got a good goal on us, but these guys have done some good things this year in terms of not losing their composure,” Shurman said.
That composure paid off late in the first half for Pallotti. Matt Emaikwu played higher and higher as the half progressed, and he was sprung free in the box on a Dino Miljkovic through-ball and beat Indian Creek goalkeeper John Warner (six saves) in the 32nd minute to retake the lead.
“We know Pallotti’s strengths — they are big and strong and direct — but it was frustrating, because we have been fantastic defensively the last three to four games,” Porter said. “Today, they switch off two moments and we get punished. It is still a big learning experience for these freshmen and sophomores. At this level, in these games that matter, that is the difference, those couple mistakes.”
The Eagles changed their shape at halftime, adding an extra man to the midfield. That created more space for Indian Creek’s midfielders. That, and more possession, translated to more legitimate chances on goal.
“In the first half, we were holding possession just to hold possession; we weren’t really threatening them,” Porter said. “I asked our two guys in the middle to look forward and be more positive with the first ball, and Cameron had a great second half. He is a fantastic player.”
Lacey made a living down the left sideline, sending cross after dangerous cross into the box. His teammates came close to finishing on multiple occasions, but could not find the back of the net. His shots tested Pallotti’s defense as well, but still no equalizer. When that last attempt clanged with 3 minutes, 41 seconds to play, it became clear that Indian Creek would not get the luck it possibly deserved.
“We got lucky,” Shurman said. “We got lucky, but we prevailed and got the three points. I will take that.”
Porter agreed with both assessments.
“At the end of the day, Pallotti leaves with three points,” Porter said. “But, if we play like we did in the second half the rest of the season, we will be OK.”
Pallotti 2, Indian Creek 1
Goals: PAL— Davidson, Emaikwu; IC — Carter.
Assists: PAL — Meyers, Milijkovic; IC — Flanagan.
Saves: PAL – Quintanilla 2; IC – Warner 6.
Half: PAL, 2-1.