Amidst all the change Green Hope has endured this year, the team is still a win or tie away from wrapping up its fourth straight conference title in boys soccer.
The Falcons and Cougars tied one another on Monday, 1-1.
It keeps Apex in the race for the title, but only if Green Hope loses out and the Cougars defeat Holly Springs on Wednesday.
The Falcons, now under the guidance of longtime wrestling coach Chip Bunn after a midseason coaching change, have not lost since Sept. 9 – about two weeks before Bunn took over.
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“Did I want to win tonight? Most definitely. Walking off with a tie against a well-coached Apex team is an accomplishment as well,” Bunn said.
The game had the feel of a playoff match as Apex, hungry for the win, began an urgent push towards the goal with 20 minutes to go.
It paid off with 5 minutes, 55 seconds remaining as Nicholas Madrid’s set piece over the top of the wall met Will Tomlinson’s head perfectly for the equalizer.
“I thought we were very gutsy. Both sides showed a lot of physicality and pretty play,” Apex coach Kevin Todd said. “In the conference race it helps them more than it does us. It was more of a sense of urgency for us to get the win.”
Green Hope goalkeeper Jack McAllister stood tall for the Falcons, as did Apex’s Corey Vodlicka.
McAllister made two crucial saves back-to-back in the final 30 seconds of the first half. At the end of the first overtime, Vodlicka had to make the game-saving stop.
Green Hope’s only goal came in the 54th minute, as Green Hope’s Erick Torres drew a penalty just inside the box. He went right on his shot and the ball hit just inside the goal.
There was momentary confusion when the ball kicked out off the inside of the post and another Green Hope player hammered in the apparent rebound.
“Over half our goals are probably PKs,” McAllister said. “That’s the usual way we win games.”
The Falcons play at Panther Creek on Wednesday and host Holly Springs on Thursday, while Apex hosts Holly Springs in its season finale on Wednesday.