The C. Milton Wright boys soccer team nearly pulled off the upset of nationally ranked Salesianum, Del. Wednesday in Fountain Green.
The Mustangs (9-2-2) battled back from a pair of two-goal deficits to force overtime, but the Sallies (10-1) converted off a corner kick in the final minute of a second overtime to win, 4-3.
The winning goal came with 1:04 left on the clock. Junior midfielder Ben Strine took the kick and as the ball approached the goal, senior forward Bryce Wallace got just enough of his head on it to flick it past Mustangs goalie Ryan Miller.
“On the last goal, I came out and my defender, guess he didn’t hear me. I came out, tried to catch it and it just went off his head, went off my hand, wasn’t expecting the deflection,” Miller said.
Oddly enough, the game stared as abruptly as it ended and Wallace was a part of it for the Sallies. It was Wallace who played the shot pass forward to Casey Kurlej. Kurlej was able to get off a shot that was high enough to get over Miller’s outstretched arms.
The goal came just 35 seconds into the game.
Some 14 minutes later, Salesianum increased its lead to 2-0. Kurlej was taken down just inside the 18, awarding the Sallies a penalty kick.
Senior Gavin Ford took the kick and buried it low, inside the left post past the diving Miller.
“The team came out flat and we can’t do that against a team like this,” Miller said. “We went down two goals early and it’s hard to fight back, but we did. Played the best half of soccer so far, I think, in the second half. I thought we played well overall, but the first half is unacceptable.”
Less than two minutes after going down 2-0, CMW struck for its first goal. Junior forward Conner Appleby sent a cross right to the head of senior captain Brett Lindsey, who placed it past Sallies keeper Emmett McCloskey.
Playing with a little more purpose, CMW played Salesianum fairly even for next several minutes. With 12:00 left, however, Salesianum regained its two-goal lead.
Kurlej tallied his second goal with an assist from John Leonard.
Down 3-1, the Mustangs came out of the halftime break ready. A long throw-in from Grayson Hichkad was snagged by Sallies keeper McCloskey in the opening minute.
Appleby and Bobby Zvitkovitz both sent hard, high shots that found the cross bar, but with 24:16 to play, a long throw-in led to a goal.
Hichkad made the throw, but McCloskey punched the ball out. The ball made its way right, where Ethan Dolezal played it back across the field. Ryan Belfiore found the ball and sent a low shot into the net.
With 10:11 left, the Mustangs drew even with the prettiest goal of the game. Dolezal booted a free kick toward fhe far post, where Belfiore headed it back across toward the opposite post. Nick Dunston-Maiese headed it in from there.
CMW appeared to have the winning goal with five minutes left, but the goal was waved off by an offsides call.
McCloskey finished with eight saves in the Sallies goal and Miller had nine for CMW.
“So, it’s always tough losing, we’re happy, the performance in the second half was phenomenal, the guys effort in the second half was great,” Mustangs head coach Brian Tully said. “Coming back, down 3-1 at halftime to a nationally ranked program. To be able to fight back shows a lot of character about the team we have in front of us right now.”
Fallston (9-4) went on the road Wednesday and won at Manchester Valley, 1-0.
Cory Reed scored the lone goal with an assist from Jake Kauffman.
Mariners win, too
Joppatowne (6-8) was a winner on Wednesday, too. The Mariners beat visiting Tri-State Christian, 4-1.
Tahjon Willis scored three goals for the Mariners and now has 32 goals on the season.
Hawks beat Cobras
North Harford (6-6) hosted and beat Harford Tech (7-4), 2-0, in non-division play on Tuesday. The Hawks led 1-0 at the half.
Cameron LaPlante and Colin McCue scored a goal each and goalie Mill Heinze made five saves.
HCS wins playoff
Harford Christian (6-2) played in the first round of MACSAC playoffs Tuesday and defeated visiting Calvary Baptist Church Academy, 12-0.
Seniors Jake Edwards and Jeong Suk Chae each had two goals, as did sophomore Dominic Zappala.
The Eagles were to play a semifinal game Thursday and with a win, play for the MACSAC title Saturday night at 6 p.m. at Carroll Christian in Westminster.
Reach Randy McRoberts on twitter. @aegissports