JAY — Their first victory of the year was staring the Spruce Mountain Phoenix right in the face, but back-to-back goals from senior center midfielder Garrett Garbarini gave the Mountain Valley Falcons a wake-up call in the second half.
But the game moved into double-overtime, anyway. Senior midfielder Cameron Gallant drilled the ball past Spruce freshman goalie Jacob Bryant for the game-winning goal, lifting Mountain Valley to a 4-3 victory on a chilly Friday night.
There was plenty of heroics to go around on both sides of the ball, though.
“Just say we fought really hard tonight,” Spruce Mountain coach Adam Gettle, who lost two athletes of a 13-man roster to injuries, said. “Legally, I can play with 10.”
With 2:11 in the second overtime, Gallant booted the ball just past Jacob Bryant to finish the game that looked like it would end in a tie.
But Gallant wasn’t so sure the ball would slap the cords.
“Initially, no,” Gallant said. “It just felt good going off the foot. I was just trying to strike the ball with force.”
But this game wouldn’t have reached overtime if it hadn’t been for junior midfielder Cameron Cain’s penalty kick that slipped past Mountain Valley senior goalie Kyle Kenney that tied the game at 3-3 with 39.7 seconds left in the game.
In the second half, all of a sudden, the Falcons snapped out of it and began hammering away at the Spruce Mountain net.
“I was experimenting with a new formation,” Mountain Valley coach J.T. Taylor said. “We made a couple of changes and the first half we were really flat.
“I wanted to be more aggressive up top and put a little more pressure on their fullbacks, and it kind of translated into everybody panicking with the ball. The first half was horrible. We weren’t connecting the dots like we like to.
“So the second half, my message was, ‘Relax.’ We got a little bit of a momentum, and once the first one hit the back of the net, the seal was broken.”
Bryant must have felt like one of those tin ducks in a shooting gallery. But the freshman didn’t flinch under all the duress and made six big saves to keep the Phoenix within reach of the Falcons.
But Falcons found a way to get around Bryant and put the ball in the net. Garbarini’s back-to-back goals, which were four minutes apart, tied the game. Mountain Valley went ahead when its third goal was ruled an “own goal,” meaning the ball went off a Spruce player and into the net.
The Phoenix’s lack of depth is obvious, but that didn’t prevent them from building a two-goal lead by halftime.
Sophomore forward Jack Gilbert took a Cain feed and scored Spruce’s first goal at 33:10. Gilbert then set up junior midfielder Jake Paradis for his goal with 2:45 left in the first half. Paradis sent the ball into the net from about 25 yards out.
Spruce Mountain senior forward Garrett Smith (9) and Mountain Valley’s Aaron LaBash (25) eye the ball during a soccer game in Jay on Friday evening.Spruce Mountain’s Garrett Smith (9) watches the ball slip past Mountain Valley goalie Kyle Kenney for a goal scored by Jack Gilbert in Jay on Friday evening.