By Jeremy Balan
After 77 minutes of frustration, it was almost fitting the way University High School scored its only goal in a 1-0 win over Urban in Bay Counties League West play on Wednesday at the Crocker Amazon Soccer Fields.
Despite controlling possession and scoring opportunities, the Red Devils (6-2-1, 2-0-1) were locked down by the Urban defense until the 78th minute, when a centering pass deflected off Urban goalkeeper Zach Thomson and directly to University’s Parker Walls, who chipped the ball over an Urban defender and into the unoccupied net from 10 yards for the game-winning score.
“Once the ball was loose, I knew I had to do something with it,” Walls said. “I just pounced on it and luckily it went in.”
Thomson came out to intercept the crossing pass, something he’d deftly done countless times during the game, but the ball just happened to carom to Walls. Thomson also had five saves.
“What can you do? He played a really great game, but that one just went in the other direction,” said Urban head coach Anthony Reyes. “I have no problem with that.”
Walls may have broken the tie, but it was University goalkeeper John Schember that kept the Red Devils in a position to win just minutes before.
Schember made a leaping, one-handed tip save from point-blank range on a shot from Urban’s Seth Rosner in the 71st minute to keep the game knotted at 0-0, and finished with three saves in the shutout.
“We got a little flat-footed and he made a great save,” said University head coach Deejae Johnson. “There’s no doubt about it. We needed it at that time and it changed the game.”
Rosner was also responsible for another golden Urban scoring opportunity in the 52nd minute.
The sophomore sent a solid strike from 20 yards out that beat Schember, but the ball hit squarely on the right post and bounced away from the face of the net.
University handed the Blues (5-1-2, 0-1-1) their first loss of the season, but the takeaway was different from each team.
For University, Johnson felt the Red Devils need to capitalize on more opportunities to be successful in the future.
“If we just had a slightly better performance from a few guys, that game would have been out of control in 20 minutes,” Johnson said. “Toward the end of the game, I though Urban was going to win, and our goal came from nothing. It’s encouraging that we’re not conceding. We’re not short on effort — just quality. That’s what we need to blend a little bit better.”
After playing neck-and-neck with University for 77 minutes, the loss wasn’t easy for the Blues to swallow, but Reyes was encouraged by their play.
“They got one that went in at the end and we didn’t,” Reyes said. “It doesn’t change the 80 minutes we played out there.”