Every time Howard’s Cody Ford steps onto the field, he expects to score. The sophomore attackman, who sees most of his playing time as a man-up specialist for the Lions, took full advantage of his limited minutes on Wednesday.
Ford found the back of the net four times – including the game-winning goal in overtime – propelling Howard to an 8-7 victory over host Marriotts Ridge.
“Coach (Jimmy Creighton) just puts me where he thinks I should play and I’m fine with that,” Ford said. “I come in, get my hands free and I shoot.
“I get those butterflies when I come into the game but I know I have to place it where I need to and when I shoot, I know it’ll go in.”
Mustangs coach Tony Incontrera and his staff knew they had keep tabs on No. 15 whenever he was on the field.
“He was on our scout as a good finisher,” Incontrera said. “He took care of business today. He was opportunistic and did a good job.”
Ford scored on a goal assisted by Nick Striebich with 56.9 seconds left in regulation to put Howard ahead, 7-6. It looked like the Lions had the game put away but Duncan Campbell won the ensuing faceoff for Marriotts Ridge and Incontrera called a timeout to set up a play.
The ball found senior Sam Hebner’s stick and he knew what to do. With 13 ticks left on the clock, Hebner knotted the contest at 7-7 when he wrapped around from behind the goal and collected his fourth score of the game.
The Mustangs (3-3, 5-3) again won the faceoff and Campbell was hit in the head to force a penalty with 1.1 seconds on the clock. With an extra-man opportunity to start overtime, Marriotts Ridge fired off three shots but the attempts went either just wide or high of the cage.
“I just had that feeling that we were going to pull it out,” Howard goalie Ben Judy said. “I was a little nervous but mostly excited. This win is definitely one of the better sports moments of my life.”
Later in the extra period, the Mustangs were called for a failure to advance and turned the ball over to the Lions – that’s where Ford entered the game.
Starting at the top of the box, Ford worked his way in front of the goal and after taking a pass from Scott Bruner, he dodged and fired in a low bouncer to clinch the game.
“It kind of felt like last year’s game where they went up on us in the fourth quarter,” Howard coach Jimmy Creighton said referencing a 9-6 loss. “But our guys kept fighting. A lot of credit goes to Marriotts Ridge too. They fought right back and scored with 13 seconds left to put it into overtime.”
After falling behind 2-0 early in the first quarter, the Mustangs took their first lead midway through the third period behind back-to-back goals by Patrick Clipp and Hebner.
But each time they tried to get another score to open up a two-goal lead, Howard (4-1, 7-1) responded right away.
Marriotts Ridge suffered its second consecutive heartbreaking loss – the other coming in a 7-6 triple overtime defeat to Reservoir April 12.
Six of the team’s top 13 players are sophomores and Incontrera applauded his seniors for being accountable.
“I thought our seniors – Paul Bennett, Sam Hebner, Duncan Campbell and Jack Dawes – all really stepped up,” Incontrera said. “Those four kept us in it and showed great leadership. But Jimmy Creighton is a great coach, he had his guys ready to go.”
Howard 8, Marriotts Ridge 7 (OT)
Ho 2 1 1 3 1 -- 8