A 30-second stretch in overtime at Chesapeake showed just how cruel soccer can be.
Southern’s Matthew Smith sent a one-timer just over the bar in the first minute of extra time. Off the ensuing goal kick, Chesapeake’s Andrew Colebrook sent a long ball into the Bulldogs’ box to teammate Ethan Belcher, who finished into the lower right corner of the net to give the Cougars a 1-0 victory on Tuesday.
“You just saw how crazy this sport can be,” Chesapeake coach Drew Belcher said. “They almost won the game right at the end of regulation, and then we turn around a couple minutes later and get the win. That is how it works sometimes.”
Chesapeake (4-3-2) controlled play in the first half, but too often rushed things when it got into Southern’s defensive third. The Cougars took nine first-half shots, but only two were on goal. They also had four corner kicks in the first half, but could not find the back of the net.
“I told them at the beginning of the game that Southern is a good team, but we were set up well,” Drew Belcher said. “It was about patience and control of the match, and I don’t think we had any of that. The same thing happened in the second half. We had plenty of chances, we just had to relax and control the ball.”
Both sides relied too much on kicking the ball long instead of holding possession, because when they did move the ball around, especially in the second half, both sides had good chances. Four minutes into the second frame, Southern (6-3) had its first shot of the game, as Smith sent a shot that Chesapeake goalkeeper Kyle Reider saved. Reider came on in the second half as Drew Belcher changed things up a bit and moved Ethan Belcher from the goal to a forward position, something he has done often this season.
“He is my starting goalie, but as a target striker, he fits the position up top very well,” Drew Belcher said. “Kyle is fantastic; he is equal to Ethan in goal, and he can handle the pressure of coming into a match at halftime with the score tied.”
Zac Bush scored for Southern in the 53rd minute, as his first touch beat Reider, but was called offside in the process of springing open. Nate Stratton had a good opportunity for the Bulldogs in the 65th minute, as he curled a corner kick into the goal that Reider stopped.
“We are in a finishing funk right now,” Southern coach Brett Blacker said. “We are defending well against everyone in the county. We had a good streak of putting the ball in the net.”
The teams continued their back-and-forth play through the end of regulation. Colebrook sent a cross across the mouth of the goal with six minutes to play, but Southern’s big center back Coleman Campbell beat his man to the ball and forced it out of bounds for a corner kick. The Cougars scored off the ensuing set piece, but were also called offside, albeit on a delayed call.
In the last play of regulation, Southern sent a corner kick to the far post and another shot tested Reider, who made the diving stop, allowing Chesapeake to play its third overtime match, and second in a week.
“We made some tactical changed in overtime, moving to three backs so we could push Ethan up with Colebrook, and it worked great,” Drew Belcher said.
Colebrook took possession off Reider’s goal kick and immediately saw Ethan Belcher in space up top. He sent a long ball in that Belcher corralled before finishing the winner.
“The team kept us in the game and when I had my chance, I made sure I finished it,” Ethan Belcher said. “I get to play forward part of the time and I have been getting a lot of chances to score, so it is kind of a habit now.”
The Bulldogs just need one goal to break this mini drought. Everything else is in play to continue a strong regular season and make another long postseason run.
“The game could have been over in that first minute of overtime, but that is just what’s been happening to us lately,” Blacker said. “We are making adjustments, but I am happy with where we are. We are holding our own against the big boys in the county.”
Chesapeake 1, Southern 0 (OT)
Goals: CH — Et. Belcher.
Assists: CH — Colebrook.
Saves: SO – Clark 3; CH – Reider 3, Et. Belcher 0.