Great Crossing boys' soccer left its home field Tuesday night believing it dominated 78 or 79 minutes of a rivalry game.
Scott County walked away with a spring in its step, knowing it was one, leaping save away from a tie against a team to which it lost by five goals, three weeks earlier.
That's the beauty of soccer, captured in a 4-2 Warhawks win in front of perhaps the largest crowd ever to watch a futbol contest in the city limits.
Keagan Morrin and Zach Hamner scored the tying and go-ahead goals in the second half to keep Great Crossing (4-0-1) undefeated. Ty Martin and Brice Cole sandwiched those.
All were necessary to offset two hustle goals by SC's Elijah Tarter, as was GC goalkeeper Isaac Sullivan's tip over the crossbar to deny the Cards' bid off a corner kick and protect what was still a one-goal margin with 90 seconds remaining.
“Credit to the guys. They went down 2-1 early in that half, but they came out and they recovered and rolled in with three more goals and knocked that out,” GC coach Nick Maxwell said. “They got their mindset right. They got the ball moving just like we did in the first half.”
It was another step forward for Scot County (0-5), which continues to push higher-ranked, more experienced foes to their limit.
Tarter's second goal — almost identical to his first, taking full advantage of miscommunication in the Warhawks' midfield — gave SC its first lead of the season with 38 minutes to go.
“One of the things is belief, and when you haven't had it before, sometimes when you're not winning it's hard to get it,” SC coach Willie Wilson said. “What I loved was I wondered what would happen when we got our first lead in a tight game, and it didn't change.”
Junior goalkeeper Logan Jean (two dozen saves) and freshman back Gage Bowling were phenomenal throughout, and especially the first half to keep it tied, 1-1, at intermission, precisely as it was when the teams met in August.
“One of the guys said, 'Coach, we just wanted to give the fans a good show.' All in all, we played well. We've just got to become more clinical with the finishing and put the ball in the back of the net,” Maxwell said. “I think when we watch the tape, they're going to say, 'We did a lot of things right except here and there,' those two goals.”
Martin's blast to the upper V put the Warhawks in front and made it look like business as usual with 11:27 remaining in the first half.
Morrin and Martin enjoyed multiple opportunities to break the ice before that.
'We had some silly mistakes last game, and this game they beat us on some nice shots. That first goal, I was over there clapping myself,” Wilson said. “If a guy beats you from 20 (yards), a guy beats you from 20. That's what it is. If we've got them shooting a majority of their shots outside the 18-yard box, then our defense is doing its job.”
SC defenders sacrificed their bodies numerous times to deflect GC perimeter shots and make life a little easier for Jean.
Tarter capitalized on that positive energy when beat Sullivan to a wayward ball and finished into the open net for the equalizer with 6:59 left in the half.
“They came out ready to play, and we knew this was their big game. You kind of got that feeling during warm-ups, but we dominated the first half, dominated the second half,” Maxwell said. “People will say that we gritted out an ugly win, but it's a win deserved if you look at it.”
Play rolled downhill in the Warhawks' favor after Tarter's encore.
Jean made a sensational save on Martin's one-timer directly in front, but Martin delivered a drop pass set up Morrin's tying laser less than a minute later.
Scott County kept it level until Hamner's heroics with 13:22 to go. He touched around two Cardinal defenders and pulled the trigger from the right edge, with the perfectly angled kick nicking the back of the far post on its way into the net.
Cole provided the insurance goal with 22 seconds remaining after Jean turned in his final how-did-he-do-that stop of the night against Rodolfo Flores.
“They're getting down to fundamentals, and they're not letting guys intimidate them. They're getting some belief now,” Wilson said. “Just the positives of what's coming out, and the boys are staying positive. Can't give enough thanks to the fans and the parents. Everybody's behind what we're doing, and it's slowly coming around.”
Maxwell credited Jacob Coats and Parker Vanlandingham as stabilizing forces in the midfield and outside back, respectively, for GC, which should also be favored in its next two contests against East Jessamine and Harrison County.
“It gives us at least the concept that we can fight back and get back in it,” Maxwell said. “Logan Jean is the MVP of this game. He played out of his mind. They had the shot Isaac saved and maybe one more decent look, but otherwise it was all us.”
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.