By Kevin Prise
GASPORT — Disregarding the final result of Tuesday afternoon's Class B-2 boys soccer pre-quarterfinal matchup between Roy-Hart and Wilson, both coaches agreed after the game that one factor emerged victorious: the wind.
Roy-Hart had the wind — which gusted up to 30 mph — at its back during the first half of regulation, dominating play and keeping the ball in the offensive end for much of the half. When the team switched sides for the second half, Wilson took control of the wind, and took control of the game.
The score was 1-1 after regulation, and remained that way after two 15-minute overtime halves. The wind wouldn't allow a winner until the tie-breaking five-man penalty kick shootout. Wilson won the shootout, 4-3, to win the game, 2-1.
Wilson moves on to face No. 2 Southwestern in the B-2 quarterfinals. For Roy-Hart, the season is over.
"Plain and simple, the wind was the winner in this game," Roy-Hart coach Barry Webber said. "If you didn't have the wind at your back, it didn't seem like you could do anything with the ball."
With the wind whipping right from the opening faceoff, Roy-Hart had the advantage for the first 40 minutes, taking advantage on a goal by Will Johnson, assisted by David Brooks.
Brooks was playing the left midfield position and dropped the ball back to Johnson, who was standing about 40 feet in front of the net. Feeling like he could get a good shot off with the wind at his back, Johnson kicked the ball over the head of Wilson goalie Stephen Lyman, into the back of the net. With 9:25 to play in the first half, Roy-Hart took the 1-0 lead, a score that held up until halftime.
After the intermission, the teams switched sides, and the Lakemen enjoyed the advantage of having the wind on their side. Wilson kept the ball in the offensive end for much of the second half's opening minutes, and it paid off with 22 minutes remaining in regulation.
Cody Secor brought the ball into the corner and made a few Roy-Hart defenders miss, before feeding the ball to Alex Keil in front. Keil beat Roy-Hart goalie Maine Walker with a low dribbler that knotted the game at 1-1.
The Lakemen had a few great opportunities late in regulation, but Walker held strong in the final few minutes to force overtime, including a gorgeous save on a point-blank shot from five feet with three minutes remaining.
Wilson had the wind at its back for the first 15-minute overtime period, and subsequently maintained control for most of the frame, with Walker making three critical saves to keep the score knotted.
The wind advantage returned to the Rams for the second overtime frame, but Roy-Hart couldn't come up with the decisive goal despite an late offensive flurry by Alex Stoddard, Andrew Villella and Lyle Wagner. Villella had a point-blank chance in front of the net with four minutes remaining, on a rebound off a shot by Stoddard, but couldn't beat Lyman.
In penalty kicks, Roy-Hart's first two shooters — Wagner and Johnson — found the back of the net. Jesus Campos' shot hit the crossbar and bounced out, James Dilorenzo scored, and Stoddard's low shot was saved by Lyman.
Wilson's first shooter, Justin Schwarzmueller, fired over the top of the net, but the final four Lakemen shooters all scored. Reilly O'Lay went second, followed by Nathan Johnson, Secor and Zachary Sarratori.
Once Sarratori's shot went in, the rest of the Lakemen squad raced to mob him. For a team that has struggled throughout the season, losing two one-goal games to Roy-Hart in Niagara-Orleans League play, it was a satisfying moment.
"They beat us twice, but we got them when it mattered," Wilson coach Tom Keil said. "We had two great games, two one-goal games, and this was another tight game."
Webber was impressively gracious in defeat, making a point to congratulate the Lakemen for a job well done.
"We prepared for penalty kicks during practice yesterday, but unfortunately it wasn't enough," Webber said. "Congrats to Wilson. They got it done."
Roy-Hart finishes the season at 7-9-1 overall, while Wilson improves to 6-10-1.