An unlikely goal with three seconds to play from 60 yards out lifted Cary’s boys soccer team to a 3-2 win over Athens Drive, but there was more strategy to the untouched bouncing ball than met the untrained eye.
Here was the situation Wednesday night at Cooper Stadium: Cary trailed 2-0 with 20 minutes to play before finally scoring. It followed up with another goal. With the match tied 2-2, the Imps were awarded a free kick from 60 yards out with 10 seconds remaining.
Cary junior striker Logan Griffin lofted a high ball toward the goal. It hit the turf untouched and bounced high over the Athens Drive goalkeeper’s head before taking another smaller bounce into the net with the clocked stopped at three seconds.
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“All you can do it put it up high into the box and hope someone can flick the ball into the goal,” Griffin said. “We got a little bit lucky, but I have to give our guys credit. They kept the goalkeeper out of the way.”
The Imps (5-6, 2-3) followed Cary coach Mike Dunphy’s instructions.
“We work on that play,” the veteran coach said. “We have guys playing the ball and there was traffic when the goalie came out. You never know what can happen.”
Cary’s George Bournazian was on the wrong end of what appeared to be the turning point to favor Athens Drive (3-4, 1-4) in the first half, but in the second half he was on the winning end.
In the first half, Bournazian had a penalty kick that was saved by Athens Drive goalie Evan Gallagher. Penalty kicks are low percentage saves, but Gallagher preserved Athens Drive’s 2-0 first-half lead. The spectacular save – he faked right and shifted back left to squarely meet the ball – came at a price, though. He suffered a dislocated finger on Bournazian’s rocket shot and left the game with six minutes remaining in the first half.
In the second half, Bournazian got the monkey off his back with his goal on an assist from Noah Bagherpour. The 2-2 tie with 8:13 to play made the winning goal possible.
They said it
“We scored on a goal like a few years ago against Green Hope on this same field going the opposite direction, but it was nothing like this with three seconds to play,” Dunphy said.
Three who mattered
Athens Drive’s Brice Moltzon: The junior scored the game’s first goal in the 15th minute.
Athens Drive’s Michael Flecker: The senior bumped the Jaguars’ lead to 2-0 with a goal in the 20th minute.
Cary’s Carlos Perez: The sophomore started the comeback with the Imps’ first goal with 19:45 to play in regulation.
Athens Drive coach Jeff Nelson and his assistants kept the Jaguars on the field in a lengthy postgame huddle as they discussed the need to play hard for 80 minutes no matter the score.