WAKE FOREST — No sooner had Holly Springs taken a lead late in the second half of its second-round 4A boys’ soccer playoff match at Heritage High than the host Huskies answered with a tying goal. And 62 seconds after that, Heritage scored the eventual game-winner.
With three minutes left in the game, Heritage’s Kidd Bottomley scored to lift the Huskies to a 2-1 comeback win over Holly Springs Saturday night.
The Golden Hawks finish the season with the program’s best finish in the Tri-Nine Conference and first trip to the second round of the playoffs.
“We’ve had one-goal leads lots of times this year,” said Holly Springs head coach Brian Miller. “They got that one goal and then the second goal...it happens. That’s part of the game and that’s why you play the game. Give credit to them for fighting back while down 1-0 with five minutes left.”
With the score tied at 1-1, Heritage (15-6) goalkeeper Calvin Hamblett made a key save and kept the ball in play. Heritage midfielder Ricky Chavez took possession and served a long pass to a streaking Bottomley near midfield. Bottomley maintained control while racing down the middle with a Holly Springs defender harassing all the way.
Holly Springs (13-9) goalkeeper Cason Brinson came out to challenge, and Bottomley managed to nudge the ball past Brinson from about 10 yards out.
“We knew we would catch them on the quick counter because they bring their backs up,” Bottomley said. “We stripped the ball and they only had their two center backs, and we had been playing long balls all game and Ricky found my feet. I tried to hit it over him and I didn’t hit it so I guess I got lucky and it went under.”
Bottomley’s game-winner capped a wild finish that included three goals in a span of 3 minutes, 24 seconds. Holly Springs took the lead by scoring the first goal of the match at the 73:36 mark. Holly Springs forward Keenan McDiarmid was fouled right outside the penalty box, setting up a direct kick for the Golden Hawks.
Holly Springs’ Mark Ackermann blasted a low shot from 19 yards out past the Heritage wall and into the far side of the net.
Heritage surged right back to tie the score with 4:02 left in the match. A throw-in sailed high towards the front of the Holly Springs goal, where a Heritage player tried to head the ball. With Brinson positioned to guard against the header, the ball deflected towards the far side, where senior forward Tyler Van Hall kicked the ball into the empty side of the net.
The goal is Van Hall’s 24th of the season.
Bottomley’s goal came just 62 seconds after Van Hall’s goal.
“It’s indescribable,” said Heritage head coach Scott Sloan. “This is a culmination of outstanding effort by young men. We don’t have the best players in the Triangle, but we have a collection of boys that really work hard. Being down with six minutes left, five minutes left, four minutes left and battling back…..it’s indescribable.”
The first half finished scoreless. Heritage outshot Holly Springs five to three in the first half. The Huskies controlled possession the majority of the time and had more scoring opportunities. The second half was a complete reversal from the first half, with Holly Springs controlling possession and getting more shots on goal.
“They committed to a 4-5-1 in the first half and they basically allowed us to possess and move the ball,” Sloan said. “In the second half, they pressed their players a little bit higher and so we lost our possession but we got a few more balls in behind them.”