In the rough-and-tumble world of Southwest Wake Athletic Conference boys soccer play this season, Apex’s 3-2 win over Holly Springs Wednesday night seemed just about right.
Apex was only matching the 3-2 overtime defeat Holly Springs handed the Cougars three weeks ago, after all. This contest was just as hard-fought, finally settled on a Kian Charkhesht goal with seven minutes remaining.
Charkhesht slid a shot just a few feet from in front of the goal into the lower left side of the net, setting off a celebration among the ‘Cougar Crazies’ in attendance.
This thriller wasn’t quite over though, as Aaron Latigue nearly headed in the equalizer for the Golden Hawks in the closing seconds. Teammate Eddie Zuniga also nearly sent the game into overtime with a hard left foot shot that went just outside the right post.
Charkhesht was happy about netting such a clutch tally for the Cougars (13-5-2, 9-4-1), who wrapped up at least a first-round home playoff match next week.
“It’s my first goal of the season and it boosted my morale,” Charkhesht said. “It should give me confidence heading into the playoffs too.”
Despite the loss, the Golden Hawks are optimistic about making positive noise in the upcoming postseason as well.
“This was some of the best soccer I’ve seen from both of these teams all season,” said Holly Springs coach Brian Miller. “Apex played extremely hard and wanted it just a little bit more than we did.”
The teams’ effort appeared equal throughout, however, as the Golden Hawks took a 1-0 lead as Zuniga scored off a Latigue feed at the 23-minute mark.
Will Tomlinson tied the score at 1-1 with seven minutes left in the half with a bullet shot into the top right corner of the goal.
Hawks goalie Cason Brinson got a hand on the shot, but it had too much force for him to stop the sizzler.
Apex took a 2-1 lead seven minutes into the second half as speedster Jake Grieco kept a ball in play and fed Patrick Bailey in front of the goal. Bailey then drove the offering into the back of the net.
Holly Springs didn’t go quietly into the night however, as Frank Velasquez was taken down in the box and created a penalty kick opportunity for Latigue 17 minutes in.
Corey Vodicka cheated a bit left, Latigue sent a shot to his right and the score was 2-2 to set the stage for Charkhesht’s heroics.