When seconds count

Isaac Moore, left, of Great Crossing battles Conner Bates of Tates Creek for possession during the second half of Thursday's 11th Region soccer clash in Georgetown. Later, Moore's apparent last-second goal was ruled to have gone in after the horn, allowing the Commodores to get out of town with a 2-1 win.

It only takes a memory long enough to recall last year's district championship game to know that the Great Crossing boys' soccer team won't quit on any game until the closing seconds.

Unfortunately for the Warhawks, they needed just one more tick of that clock at home Thursday night.

Isaac Moore's desperation shot in the continuing action after a free kick rattled off the crossbar and into the net as the horn sounded to end regulation.

Those heroics set off a brief, muted celebration as Great Crossing players and coaches turned and looked for validation. The officials quickly and unequivocally waved off the apparent game-tying goal, however, ruling that the buzzer went off before the play was complete.

And with that, Tates Creek prevailed, 2-1, in a season-opening clash of sides with 11th Region title aspirations when all is said and done.

"I'm going to enjoy watching it back to see when that buzzer actually goes off," GC coach Nick Maxwell said. "KHSAA (rules), I think it has to be across the line, If we don't have a running clock up there and the official is keeping time on the field, that's a goal."

Maxwell conceded after that review that it was probably the correct call.

"He's hitting it right at the buzzer, so I'd say no goal, but man, it was close," he said.

The Warhawks will have some time to stew about it. Due to a positive COVID-19 test on their roster, disclosed Sunday, they are the fifth Great Crossing team sidelined until at least the week of Sept. 21-25. They join girls' varsity soccer, freshman football, boys' JV-2 soccer, and cheering.

GC earned the game-tying opportunity from 30 yards away with about a half-minute on the clock, but the Warhawks waited until time elapsed into single digits before Preston Welch delivered the free kick.

It fell at the feet of Moore and Aiden Bryan. Moore, one of nine upperclassmen stepping up into an enhanced role after GC's district championship team graduated double-digit seniors, unleashed a rocket to the upper left corner.

"We did it to ourselves. There were moments were we dominated the game, and then the last 15 minutes of both halves we allowed them opportunities," Maxwell said. "We stopped what we were doing, and you see what happened. They score the winning goal in that time frame, and then we're not pushing hard enough to get that tying goal."

Welch's older brother, Austin, delivered one equalizer for Great Crossing with 26:14 remaining in the game.

"I told them at halftime, boys, just take opportunities, take shots," Maxwell said. "We didn't really know what this keeper could do, because we didn't really take shots the first half. The things he had to save were kind of easy.:

Tates Creek pressed the issue in its attacking third for a lengthy stretch thereafter.

Warhawks' goalkeeper Michael Moeller made a series of point-blank saves to preserve the deadlock, but Jona Juarez finally broke through with his second strike of the night and put the Commodores back on top with 8:53 left.

"Creek likes to say that they're rebuilding, but the reality is that they're a good team. They've got one really good player at each level," Maxwell said. "We have a couple guys who’ve been on JV the past couple years who are stepping up, so just trying to catch up with the speed of play.

"When you graduate 14 or 16 seniors or whatever we had, there's going to be some growing pains and getting used to each other. Both goals are easy fixes. That's the good news."

Juarez connected on a rocket just underneath the crossbar with 23 minutes remaining in an otherwise quiet first half.

"The ball just kind of pinged around out here, and the guy just hit a blister of a shot, top net," Maxwell said, "Nothing we could do and nothing the keeper could do, but we broke down a little bit beforehand. We didn't take care of the ball like we usually do, so it was clear we've got a little work to do."

Great Crossing initially was scheduled to play four matches in eight days, starting Tuesday, before the positive test.

On the plus side, the time off will give Zach Hamner and Jaxson Pennington, among others, time to heal from aches and pains inflicted in the clash with Creek.

"A lot of it is truing to cram two weeks of preseason into what's normally four.," Maxwell said of the Warhawks' opening-game ups and downs. " Hamner coming off really hurt. Our bench got thin when Jackson got injured, so our midfielders had to pick up some minutes."

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