As the coach of four-time defending 2A state-champion Marriotts Ridge, Kevin Flynn has seen his fair share of crazy feats on a soccer field.
Yet, following Tuesday’s 3-2 come-from-behind victory over Reservoir on the road, even he was somewhat at a loss for words.
“I’m not sure exactly what to say … that was pretty special,” Flynn said while still trying to wrap his head around the fact that his team had just scored three times in the final 10 minutes of regulation to pull out the one-goal victory.
“You simply don’t come back from 2-0 with that much time left. It just doesn’t happen, especially not against a good team like Reservoir. But this is a special group that you just can never count out because they never give up.”
Trailing by two following an unassisted tally by Reservoir’s (2-1-1, 4-1-1) Michael Peprah with 13:29 left in regulation, Marriotts Ridge’s (4-0 county, 7-0 overall) undefeated season appeared to be in jeopardy. Mustang senior Amir Najib, however, had other plans.
“I’m not going to lie, I thought we were in trouble. But, you know what, if we were going to make the comeback, it was up to me to get the guys together and make them believe,” Najib said. “I didn’t know if we could win, but I knew we were going to at least go down fighting.”
It was Najib that provided the spark that ignited the comeback, calmly converting a penalty kick after he was fouled in the box with 9:36 showing on the clock.
From there, the floodgates opened.
Slightly less than three minutes after Najib’s first score, he found the net once again to tie the game courtesy of a ball that was flicked to him off the head of Jeff Kammerer.
“You see that ball finally go in on Amir’s goal, after all the chances we had missed all game, and it definitely motivates you,” Kammerer said.
Reservoir coach Reg Hahne acknowledged the drastic change in momentum following the penalty kick as well.
“It changed the entire complexion of the game when they got that first goal. They were an entirely different team after that,” Hahne said. “That’s what great teams do, they never quit. And they are a great team.”
With all the momentum, Marriotts Ridge kept its foot on the accelerator and struck for the deciding score with 4:56 remaining in regulation. Following a misplayed ball by Reservoir goalie Kyle Kroll (7 saves) outside the box, Kammerer swooped in and converted a breakaway chance into the empty net.
“It all happened so fast. I had actually slowed down and given up on the play and then I heard everyone screaming. I looked down and the ball was right there,” Kammerer said. “It was like too good to be true and I knew I couldn't miss that one. Just unbelievable … this whole team is just amazing.”
Reservoir had been in control for the majority of the game, striking in the 9th minute on a running header by David Harris off a cross from Philipp Reichel for an early 1-0 advantage.
Marriotts Ridge had several quality chances to score in the closing minutes of the first half and early portion of the second, including a free kick by Kammerer that hit the crossbar just out of halftime, but had nothing to show for it thanks to some big stops by Kroll.
Then, when Peprah converted his hard shot from the top of the box off the hands of Marriotts Ridge goalie Joe Dryja (6 saves), Flynn started thinking that this just might not be his team’s day.
“With the way we had all those balls in front of the goal and nothing to show, then they score to make it 2-0, it definitely had the feel of one of those nights where it wasn’t going to go in,” Flynn said.
“But all of a sudden we get the penalty kick, and then we had life.”
With his two goals on Tuesday, Najib now has 13 in seven games so far this fall. Kammerer is right behind him with eight goals and eight assists.