LISBON — As playoff season draws near, the battles become harder fought.

That’s what Lisbon High School (5-2-1) and St. Dominic Academy (4-1-2) boys’ soccer demonstrated in Monday’s Mountain Valley Conference matchup, dueling through two overtimes to a scoreless tie.

Monday’s game needed to be a momentum changer for the Greyhounds, losers of their last two contests after surprising themselves by winning five straight to start the season.

However, they faced a tough opponent in the typically dominant Saints, winners of their last four and often a favorite in past matchups with the ‘Hounds.

With just over 22 minutes left to play in the first half, the Saints grabbed their first real chance of scoring when striker SJ Park drilled a shot from just beyond 18 yards that rang off the crossbar, sending the Greyhounds into recovery mode.

Ten minutes later, St. Dom’s threatened again as Austin Thompson broke into the box and delivered a rocket off the hands of Lisbon goalkeeper Nate Bergeron. Park was there to collect the rebound, shooting one that soared over the top of the net for yet another close call.

The Greyhounds caught their second wind toward the end of the first half when Nick Huston lifted a ball into the crease on a corner kick to Ryley Austin, whose header was deflected just inches away from the goal line by the Saints defense.

Nate the Great

In the second half, St. Dom’s put the pressure on the Lisbon defense and Bergeron. Several Saints had quality looks at the goal, with the Greyhound goaltender coming up with big save after big save.

Again, Lisbon pushed back at the end of a period, pressing the issue on the St. Dom’s defense. But, the game slipped into overtime with neither team finding the back of the net.

The opportunities came at a premium for both teams in the extra session, but it was the Saints who appeared more dangerous on the offensive front. St. Dom’s striker Austin Roy had a chance to end it 30 seconds into the second overtime when he found open space within the box, but Bergeron blocked Roy’s shot with ease.

Bergeron played his first game this season after being academically ineligible. The Saints made him work as he totaled 16 saves on 20 shots.

“I played this game for the team because I owed it to them,” Bergeron said.

“Nate played phenomenal,” Greyhounds coach Dan Sylvester said. “He hasn’t played a game all season and we had to change things up a little bit, and Nate knew he had to step up for his teammates.”

Over the first seven games, Austin, typically a sweeper, filled in for Bergeron in net, allowing just four goals and picking up five shutouts to open the season.

“It feels good to be back out there,” Austin said. “But that was the whole goal, it was to get (Bergeron) eligible and in net where he’s supposed to be and me back on the field and play the game for the team.”

Both teams battled with hard, physical play as Roy said the intensity between the two teams has changed over the past couple of years.

“Over the years, Lisbon has become a rivalry to us,” Roy said. “They always put up a good fight against us.”

“It’s always hard to play here,” Saints coach Marty Bressler said. “Sylvester and the Lisbon coaching staff does a good job getting their team ready.”

The respect between teams is mutually shared by Sylvester, who hoped his team’s play against St. Dom’s proved they’ll be able to keep up the pace at the end of the regular season.

“This is where we want to be, to be with the upper teams like that,” Sylvester said. “Especially with St. Dom’s. I have a lot of respect for their coach, and (Bressler) has done a phenomenal job with that program.”

Both teams continue MVC play on Wednesday as the Greyhounds travel to Winthrop to take on the Ramblers, while the Saints’ host Monmouth Academy.

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