It took almost 56 minutes for Reservoir to solve Wilde Lake goalie Patrick Riley on Tuesday in the 3A East Section II semifinals. But once the Gators finally broke through, the floodgates opened.
David Harris scored twice and Christian Alfaro added a goal of his own, all within the final 24 minutes of regulation, to help Reservoir hold off a hard-pressing Wildecat team down the stretch for a 3-1 victory. The win advances the Gators into a section final game against River Hill on Thursday.
"You know, while we weren't placing our shots very well, I was pleased with how many shots we were putting on frame today. We were forcing (Riley) to make plays and he had a heck of a game," Reservoir coach Josh Sullivan said. "Once we started settling down, using the width of the field a little better, I thought that's when we finally got going a little. Those last 20-30 minutes were much better."
While Wilde Lake ultimately ended up falling short, Riley (11 saves) did everything he could to keep things close.
After an opening half that saw several quality chances for both squads but no goals, Reservoir came out firing immediately following intermission. Harris had a point-blank shot turned away by Riley in the opening two minutes and then, shortly after that, Kyle Saunderson nearly finished off a cross across the goal line.
With the game still scoreless in the 47th minute, Wilde Lake's Chris Johnson had his own golden opportunity on a shot from the top of the box, that would have gave his team the lead, sail just wide right.
Ultimately, though, it was Reservoir's pressure that paid dividends. Streaking down the middle of the field, Harris tracked down a lead pass from William Schulden with just under 25 minutes showing on the clock and finished just inside the left post for a 1-0 lead.
Then, 11 minutes later, Christian Alfaro got into the act to make it a two-goal lead.
Wilde Lake threatened to make things interesting down the stretch, as Nick David found himself open on the left post and finished past Reservoir goalie Andre Dachao (2 saves) with 7:39 left in regulation to make it 2-1.
But before the momentum could officially change hands, Reservoir issued the clinching blow. Less than 30 seconds after David's tally, Harris scored his second goal of the game to create the final two-goal margin.
While pleased with his team's late surge to put the game away, Sullivan said afterward that the team's habit of slow starts this season is a dangerous way to live at this point in the season.
"We've tried literally everything … I've gone down the entire list trying to figure out how we can start better," Sullivan said. "The thing that worries me is one of these games giving up that one stupid goal early and then it coming back and biting us. Hopefully we can figure it out soon, because we seem to have the second half part down."
The Mustangs grabbed the early lead when Sam Dietemyer headed in a corner kick in the sixth minute, but the team was unable to find the net again. Calvert scored eight minutes into the second half to tie things up. Then, after playing even through the rest of regulation and two overtimes, the game went to penality kicks. Calvert made four straight attempts, while Marriotts Ridge missed three of four.
Long throw-ins from James Corley set up both of the Lions' first two goals — by Kyle Lowenkron and Jordan Griggs — to carry a 2-0 lead into halftime. Blake closed with one in the first 10 minutes of the second hlaf, but Scott Bruner put the game away with the clinching goal in the 79th minute.
Goals: Ho - Bruner, Griggs, Lowenkron; B - Davila.