Hereford striker Pat Fisher doesn't waste many scoring opportunities, even when he's tightly marked.
He came up big again Tuesday night against No. 14 Eastern Tech in a Class 2A North sectional semifinal, scoring twice, including the game-winner with nine minutes remaining, to lead the Bulls to a 2-1 victory. Fisher now has 12 goals this season, and is confident the No. 15 Bulls are playing their best soccer at the most crucial time of the season.
"We knew we could beat them," Fisher said. "We knew we had to push up and get the goal. We didn't want overtime. Luckily, I popped one in. We're playing very good."
The Mavericks (12-3) were effective moving the ball through the midfield with long, crisp passes, but it was a set piece that gave Eastern Tech the lead. In the 12th minute, defender Kurt Daisley rose above two defenders to score on a header off a corner kick by Dimitri Tsapalas.
Unfazed, Hereford (11-3-3) responded four minutes later. After Eastern Tech failed to clear the ball in front of its goal, Pat Fisher scored from close range off a pass from A.J. Endres.
The Bulls had the better run of play for much of the half and came close to taking the lead several times, with Jason Ashwood effectively taking on defenders.
"It was always an excellent game because we are rivals from way back," Hereford coach Mike Lacko said. "Eastern is very strong, and you have to give them the respect they deserve. You step up your game in order to beat them. I think we did that tonight."
The teams traded chances early in the second half. Tsapalas nearly gave the Mavericks the lead in the 54th minute when he dribbled by a defender and poked his shot just wide of goal. Two minutes later, Eastern Tech's Ajay Jagadesan pushed his shot past the far post.
Hereford answered with a quick counter, but a goal was disallowed because of an offside call. Ashwood nearly had the game-winner with 10 minutes remaining, but his half-volley from about 15 yards went just over the crossbar.
Fisher didn't miss a minute later when he took a through ball from Ashwood and fired a shot into the corner of the goal for the 2-1 lead.
"We missed some opportunities in the second half," Eastern Tech coach Peter Glaudemans said. "It's a funny game sometimes that way. We created three or four quality opportunities. We just didn't put them on frame. We share the joys and we share the pain. Unfortunately, right now, we're sharing the pain."