If the 2015 season has been a roller coaster ride for the Men's Soccer team, this is the probably the point where you're leaned backed, hearing ticking, and knowing that there is no going back. Since a 6-2 loss to Heritage, the Wildcats have only been heading up in a positive direction. They picked up their 2nd Cap-8 win of the season and it came on the road against one of the conference's finest in Enloe.
It was a very lackluster first half on both sides, in the 26th minute, Millbrook ended up establishing some pressure. Ryan Johnson headed in a corner kick that was waved off by the official, mere seconds later, Gilbert Rebollar missed the cage by just a foot from about eight feet out. The Wildcat attack wasn't done as Michael Pasca darted up the sideline and navigated his way towards the net before chipping a shot towards the goal that the keeper would be able to smother for the save. In the 30th minute, following a great hustle play from 'Cats keeper Noah Davison to keep the game 0-0, Ian Pearlswig would rocket a shot on goal from less than ten feet out that once again, the Eagle keeper Sevim would remarkably stop. Goaltending was the name of the game in the first half as the team's entered the break tied 0-0.
Coming off of a 0-0 draw to Sanderson on Monday night in which they registered a plethora of scoring chances, something had to give for the Wildcat offense. They opened the half by creating more pressure on the Eagles and it payed off as they earned a penalty kick in the 49th minute. Junior, Ian Pearlswig got the duties of taking the kick and for the second time in as many weeks, he rocketed it to the lower left portion of the goal to put Millbrook up 1-0. That would be the first time that Enloe had allowed a goal to the Wildcats this season. Coach Edwards loved how guys like Pearlswig are developing as the season has gone on by making adjustments to his game.
"That's the third time that he has taken a PK for us this year and after missing on the first one at Middle Creek, he has really worked hard to improve that shot and boy, the last two have been right on the money, they have been unstoppable shots but you really have to acknowledge the build up that led to the kick. Our offensive pressure was great tonight and had it not been for a guy like Harrison getting isolated 1-on-1 with his guy to a point where he could play to his strength of being long and super athletic to draw the penalty."
The offensive pressure had two more plays in them before the 55th minute passed, both coming on plays started by Pearlswig. The pressure would greatly change following that. The Eagles centered a ball right towards the goal that was headed just feet above the crossbar in the 57th minute, Noah Davison would then race out to fall on top of another potential chance, and in the 64th minute, the Eagles would drive towards the goal again before sending the ball wide right of the cage from close range. As a goalie taking on one of the top teams around, you need a little help from your friends on defense and that's what Davison would get in the 66th minute. Will Felt would streak up the left side for Enloe, it appeared that he had a good shot on goal but he chose to side step his defender to get a more direct path towards the goal, in that time, August Majtenyi raced back to boot the ball out of bounds. On the ensuing corner kick, the Eagles headed it over a diving Davison, right towards the net and once again, Majtenyi was there to save it off of the line with his head. For the junior midfielder, he wasn't done yet as the rebound was rocketed right back at the net and had to make another phenomenal save on the line to keep it 0-0. What was a Houdini act for the Wildcats on defense was credit to them fixing their mistakes according to Majtenyi.
"I missed a few chances to save balls off the line earlier in the season and it's been that mindset off "if I ever get another chance, I won't miss out on it". That's how we all are, we have used these mistakes from earlier in the season to our benefit and it really showed tonight, that was one of our most complete efforts and it showed how we didn't give up against a really good team."
Ryan Johnson would take his turn at making a thrilling defensive stop in the 71st minute as he would race back on defense to shut down a Eagle scoring chance, over the last five games, he and Jose Garcia-Ramirez have stepped their game up and Coach Edwards once again loved their performance on Wednesday night.
"They have sparked us lately in so many ways, both have chipped in with recent goals and both have given our keepers lots of confidence. It's great as a goalie to see guys on defense giving their everything for you and that is no doubt what Ryan and Jose have been able to do recently for Grafton and Noah. It has just taken a while to build that chemistry with such a young team"
Moments following the stop, the Eagles would find the back of the net thanks in part to a centering pass that Graham Rex kicked home in the 73rd minute. That goal tied the match at 1-1 and for Noah Davison, it snapped a shutout streak of 174 minutes. Since returning from injury three weeks ago, the Wildcats goalkeeper is starting to find his groove according to Edwards.
"He's only a junior, there is so much room for him to grow and we've already seen a ton of growth from him in the last few weeks after a dud at Heritage. It really helps to have a guy like Grafton Potter right behind him that pushes him to do better and he pushes Grafton as well which really makes our team that much better. He's going to be kicking himself over that goal allowed just because, that's what goalies do but outside of that, he has been stellar, you really can't ask for more out of a guy that was riding a 170+ minute shutout streak."
Allowing a late goal to tie the game has been a recent achilles heel for Millbrook. Edwards is looking for a complete 80 minutes out of his guys and being presented with a situation like that against a team with only two losses on the season could cause many to hang their heads, but on Wednesday night, that wouldn't be the Wildcats.
Millbrook got right back on the attack following the goal, three minutes later Harrison Clark had a throw in right next to the Wildcat sideline. Lots of pressure down low caused the throw to be headed into the goal by an Enloe defender to give Millbrook a 2-1 lead. The 'Cats once again found some late game magic and it came in the form of an own goal. Following the score, there would not be much else to write home about as the final three minutes ticked off the clock to seal the upset victory.
The Wildcats improve to 5-5-4 on the season and the Eagles fall to 8-3. Millbrook is back in action on Tuesday at home against Wake Forest, a team that they defeated in overtime thanks to three late goals. That game starts at 6:30, following JV at 4:30. For more information, follow Millbrook Soccer on Twitter at @soccer_mhs.