For more than 65 minutes, the Buckeye Valley boys soccer team was destined to quietly take home an MOAC victory over rival Marion Pleasant.
But, the Spartans put the pressure on in the final 15 minutes forcing BV goalkeeper Jack Scheeler to make a couple game-saving stops, including one in the final 15 seconds, to allow the host Barons to escape with a 2-1 victory Monday night in Delaware.
Pleasant’s Drew Decker sent a corner kick in from the left side to the opposite side where Nick Kimmel headed it back toward the middle forcing Scheeler to leave his feet to prevent the game-tying goal with about 15 seconds remaining.
“My heart was in my throat for that one,” Scheeler said. “I stood still and waited for the shot and I was lucky that it was close enough for me to get that dive in. I guarantee if I would have dived out – I would have missed it.”
Scheeler said Kimmel tipped his hand enough for him to make an educated guess on where the shot was going.
“His hips turned a lot,” he said. “As soon as he turned a little bit inside I knew it was going to be close. If they keep their hips out wide they only have a certain range and they’re going to be able to hit to the outside.”
BV coach Eric Staley pointed out that Scheeler has grown a lot in a short amount of time.
“He made a couple against Clear Fork (Sep. 5) too – those game-saving saves,” Staley said. “He was new to the game a year ago. He’s taken to coaching well … he has great reflexes and he showed them a couple of times toward the end there when we needed him to.”
“It was a little bit of luck, but I feel like a lot of training went into that,” Scheeler said.
Scheeler’s other key stop came on a Gage Williams header off a Decker corner in the 69th minute.
He had three saves in total in the second half in relief of Cole Davis, who didn’t record a save in one half of action for the Barons (5-3-1, 3-1).
Decker almost tied it in the 68th minute, but his shot from the left hit the top-right corner of the goal post and caromed out.
“We seemed to have developed a history of playing the last 12 or 14 minutes,” Pleasant coach Randy Owings said. “I live for the day that we can put it together for 40 minutes. Then, we’ll go for 60.”
The Barons held the lead from the very beginning thanks to a Felipe Scharff goal off a Ben Daily feed out of the opening kick 41 seconds into the game.
“It did seem like we laid down a little bit,” Staley said. “We got the early goal and some guys started taking shots they shouldn’t have taken.”
A.J. Nicolosi rebounded and scored a Daniel Patrones shot initially saved by Pleasant goalkeeper Gavin Baisden with 16:37 left in the first half to up the lead to 2-0.
“(Nicolosi was) doing what he knows he’s supposed to do,” Staley said. “When we take a shot from distance like that – if it gets through – it doesn’t always mean that the keeper is going be able to cover. (He) just crashed the net and tapped in the rebound. People call that garbage, but they’re all worth one.”
Logan Cauthen lofted a shot from deep on the right and in to get the Spartans on the board with 7:41 remaining in the opening half.
Baisden finished with 12 saves for the Spartans (2-5-2, 2-1-1).
“We played our game the second half,” Owings said. “We did what we wanted to do and dictated what we wanted to dictate and … we’re growing. We’re missing 10 guys off last year’s team and there’s a lot of guys that haven’t played varsity soccer for us. So, this is another step in the direction of getting where we want to be.”
Next up, the Barons are off until Monday when they travel to Johnstown-Monroe in non-league action. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.