Lansdowne High's refuse-to-quit attitude paid off handsomely as the Vikings (4-5-1) secured a victory in its regular-season finale Oct. 20 against visiting Pikesville.
Lansdowne trailed, 2-1, after Pikesville's Tete Obot scored with under 16 minutes left in the second half until the Vikings responded with two quick in the final 10 minutes of regulation to pull off a 3-2 victory.
Vince Anikas scored the first goal on a 29-yard direct kick.
Pikesville goalie Tyler Weinblatt had the ball on the goal line for a second before fumbling it as he fell back over the line.
"I knew I wasn't going to hit it too hard," Anikas said. "I just wanted to get it on frame. I've done this before, a free kick to the goal, so I knew it could happen again."
Anikas tallied the winner in a 4-3 triumph over Woodlawn in overtime with a similar shot from the opposite side of the field.
"He's the one that knows what to do with those balls. He is usually going to take them," Lansdowne coach Matt Kohel said.
Two minutes later, Anikas took a corner kick that caromed off Pikesville's Josh Barris for an own goal.
"I knew the wind was going to make it hard to judge for that play, so I just hit it right at him and hoped for the best," Anikas said.
Lansdowne had a lot of hope and faith early in the game with an undermanned squad that started with only nine players.
"We had nine guys at practice on Tuesday, and my rule is you don't come to practice, you can't start the next game," Kohel said. "They know that and they took it. I think they could have taken it the wrong way, but they took it well."
They played with nine players for the first 10 minutes of a scoreless match and endured the absence of senior tri-captain Nestor Martinez, who missed the game because of a red card in a previous game.
Pikesville didn't threaten until midway through the first half when they peppered goalie with three straight shots on goal that were saved by junior goalie Abednego Anyoha.
Lansdowne's defense of tri-captain John Armstrong, Peter Flores, Masserigne N'Daiye and Thomas Mang survived the onslaught and turned a near-goal by the Panthers into a fast break goal at the other end.
That's when Migeal Colin fed David Sang with a long through-ball that he redirected into the net for a 1-0 lead.
It was one of the few plays in the first half that pleased Kohel.
"This is the sloppiest game we played overall," Kohel said. "I told them at halftime maybe I should drop back to nine guys,"
Less than seven minutes into the second half, at even strength, Pikesville scored the equalizer on a feed from Seth Kopel to Laurence Spekterman.
Lansdowne then had errant shots from Lal Hnget and Adolfo Calmo to control time of possession.
Then Pikesville's Brehema Molubah found an opening at the other end and sent a shot headed for the goal that was saved by diving defensive fullback N'Daiye.
Molubah got another chance moments later, and he responded by rippling the net for a 2-1 Panthers' lead.
Seven minutes later, Anikas provided his magic with the direct kick that vanished through the goalie's arms for the tying goal before his corner led to the game-winner.
"We knew we could play with them from the start, but we were just really slow, and we wern't playing to our level," Anikas said. "When we found ourselves down, we picked up our game."
Kohel was happier when the Vikings didn't hesitate to take open shots.
"With tougher teams, we've been stressing to make the extra pass, but sometimes they take it to extreme," Kohel said. "Instead of shooting the shot, they try to give it up one more time and then it's too many touches."
If some of those touches turn to shots on goal, the Vikings could make a difficult opponent for someone in the regional playoffs.
Kohel added a pair of junior varsity players to the roster recently to prepare.
"We're trying to get them some varsity experience when it comes to playoffs, because I'm going to need the depth in the playoffs," Kohel said.
Getting top player Martinez back will be an added bonus.
"It would have been better if he would have been on the field (against Pikesville), but something went wrong in the other game. But he always helps," Calmo said.