Wilde Lake boys soccer coach Dave Nesbitt wore a smil after yesterday's 0-0 tie with Gonzaga at Wilde Lake.
The defending Class 1A state champion Wildecats (1-1-1) were decided underdogs against the Purple Eagles (7-0-3), ranked fourth in the D.C. area by The Washington Post.
Gonzaga strikers Waughn Hughes (19 goals) and John Swagart (12) figured to shred a young Wilde Lake defense hampered by injuries and one ineligibility.
However, Wildecats goalkeeper Todd Bradford and a patchwork defense bent, but wouldn't break.
Bradford, a senior playing his first full game this season, made six saves during the two 10-minute overtime periods for a total of 15. Many were sensational.
When Hughes appeared to have Bradford beaten far outside the net during overtime, Bradford locked hands with Hughes and threw himoff balance, ending the threat.
"He was a real good player, and that [locking hands] was the second time I had to do that," Bradford said. "Luckily, a penalty didn't get called."
Bradford made a brilliant sliding leg save near the end of the second overtime. Seventeen minutes into the second half, he stopped a rocket off his chest from short range.
Bradford was joined in the defensive effort by sophomore sweeper Jeff Curtis and several teammates.
"Curtis played a real smart game," Nesbitt said. "This was a big game for us, and we overcame some freshman mistakes to play well. I was definitely satisfied with the way we played."
About 15 minutes into the second half, when Bradford was caught far out of the net, Gianpaulo Einaudi and Curtis made head saves to prevent a goal.
Nesbitt praised junior strikers Brian Jefferson and Kwesi Ewool-Robotham and senior stopper Corey Sautter.
Sautter, who created several offensive threats for the Wildecats, played through the pain of a sore ankle.
Wilde Lake, No. 13 in The Baltimore Sun poll, lost senior captainand fullback Mike Aballo early in the game. In his first start this season, he reinjured the medial collateral ligament in his left knee, an injury incurred last December during a tournament in North Carolina.
"It just wouldn't support my weight," Aballo said. "It will be at least a couple weeks before I can play again."
Wilde Lake also missed senior fullback Yohan Choi, who is academically ineligible. He might return soon if he completes some classwork.
Junior Mark Davis and freshman Jeremy Young were forced into action defensively and performed competently. Senior midfielder Aaron Dombrowsky, a transfer from Minnesota, was assigned the job of marking Hughes.
Gonzaga outshot Wilde Lake, 18-7, and applied constant pressure during the second overtime period, when the Purple Eagles were much more aggressive to the ball than Wilde Lake.
"Gonzaga is a fine team, so we're satisfied with the tie," Nesbitt said. "We had opportunities to win, though."
L Gonzaga also tied No. 2 Centennial earlier this season, 2-2.