For the second time this season, No. 8 Perry Hall and Hereford got together to play a boys soccer game and couldn't get anything decided.
In Wednesday's Baltimore County championship game, the stakes were higher but the result — a 2-2 tie — was the same, as the teams were forced to share the county title.
Hereford junior midfielder Alex Feeney scored on a free kick with 5:20 left in regulation and then both goalkeepers — Perry Hall's Cody Phillips and the Bulls' Dan Staab — each made an impressive reaction save in 20 minutes of extra time to keep the game tied.
The Gators (11-2-2) came into the game as defending county champions and winners of their last nine games. They had one-goal leads in each half but were unable to finish off the determined Bulls.
"This stings a little bit," Perry Hall coach Pete Eibner said. "If you look at the faces over there [on Perry Hall's bench], there's nobody celebrating right now. As a coach, I like that because you want to win."
After Andrew Yu made a fine far post run to finish off a ball sent in by Connor Gwin, the Gators had a 2-1 lead with 27:20 to play in regulation. Then Phillips, filling in for starting goalie Austin Kroll who was out due to a red card in the previous game, made two saves to protect the lead before Feeney set up for the late free kick just above the penalty area. He was able to work around the Gators' six-man wall to find the near post for the tying goal.
In the first 10-minute overtime, Hereford's Pat Fisher cranked a heavy left-footed shot from just outside the penalty area that Phillips (seven saves) tipped over the crossbar. In the second overtime, Perry Hall's Colin Weyant placed a free kick from 20 yards low to the far post that Staab (eight saves) dove for to get a hand on and send wide.
Perry Hall standout Nicky Jones, dangerous throughout the game, opened the scoring when he put in his own rebound in the 11th minute. Hereford (8-2-3) tied the game when A.J. Endres, eight yards out, lofted a header over Phillips with 8:50 to play in the first half.
For Perry Hall, it was the program's sixth county championship and second time earning back-to-back crowns — but the Gators seemed less pleased with the result than the Bulls.
"The kids played with a lot of heart. This year, we tell them you go in there and leave everything on the field and that's how they played," said Hereford coach Mike Lacko. "Perry Hall, I consider them maybe one of the best teams in the state, and we were right there with them. I can't say enough good things about our guys."
The teams also played to a 2-2 draw at Perry Hall on Sept. 12.
"I thought the game was hard fought," Eibner said. "I think we had our chances to put them away and we didn't do it."
Baltimore County championship
8 Perry Hall 2, Hereford 2
Goals: H – Endres, Feeney; PH – Jones, Yu
Assists: H – DeGraw; PH -- Gwin
Saves: H – Staab 8; PH – Phillips 7.
Half: 1-1Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun