The North Scott boys soccer team dug itself a two-goal hole against Davenport North on Monday afternoon in a Mississippi Athletic Conference battle.
But the Lancers got off the deck and rallied with three unanswered goals, including the game-winner in the final two minutes, to knock off the Wildcats, 3-2, on North's home field.
With the score tied at two in the 79th minute, the Lancers' Max Solis was able to send a long ball bouncing back into the middle of the field and headed back toward the Wildcats' end. It did not appear to be much of a threat until Lancers sophomore forward Alex Perez out-hustled and out-muscled two North defenders to gain control of the ball about 30 yards out.
Perez then was able to work his way back toward the middle of the field and then slice a shot into the right corner of the goal past a diving Donovan Weaver for the game-winner. It was also Perez's second goal of the contest.
"I really wanted to get that ball and I was able to switch back to the middle (after gaining possession) and I knew I had to go for a corner because Weaver is a really athletic keeper," Perez said of his game-winning play. "This is just a huge win for us because we have some really tough games coming up."
Perez added there wasn't a lot of anxiety even after the Lancers (5-1 overall, 3-1 MAC) fell behind 2-0 after the 13th minute.
"We knew that North was a solid team and we had to bring our 'A' game and just fight until the final whistle," Perez said. "I think every single member of our team brought their 'A' game when they needed to. We knew that there was a lot of time left and we just had to keep finding openings and sending in through balls on the attack. We didn't panic."
North (7-2, 2-1) made the visitors pay for some defensive lapses to grab the early lead. Freshman Chase Green latched onto a ball about 40 yards out in the 11th minute then proceeded to slice through the Lancers defense by himself.
He eventually fired home a shot from roughly 15 yards out past Lancers keeper Colin Wiersema to put the hosts up 1-0. Just two minutes later, Wildcats senior midfielder Kyp Ridenhour was not marked in the box on a corner kick and easily headed home a shot from six yards out to give the home team a 2-0 lead.
But North Scott started to find its footing and Lancers sophomore midfielder Chase Porter showed why he will be a force to be reckoned with in the conference. Porter helped get North Scott on the board in the 25th minute when he sent a perfectly weighted through ball to Solis who was able to get behind the defense. Solis then beat Weaver with a shot into the top left corner.
Four minutes later off a short corner, Porter played another perfect pass to Perez, who was on the doorstep and easily sent home a shot from short distance to tie the game at 2-2.
"It was a great pass from Chase, all I had to do was finish the play," Perez said.
"He's got a great soccer IQ, he's got a motor that does not end, he is the whole package," North Scott coach Troy Bendickson said of Porter. "When he has the ball, something good is going to happen."
Bendickson added he was proud of team for staying mentally tough. He said the Lancers lost eight games last season by one goal, so pulling out close games like this is a step in the right direction.
"Last year, we didn't win any of these (close) games. So to get a win in this situation gives us hope," he said.
Wiersema made six saves in net for the winners while Weaver kept his team in the contest with nine saves, including three on occasions when North Scott attackers had a clear path to goal. Wildcats coach David Gamble said things actually started to turn for his team after getting the 2-0 lead.
"It was almost like we started panicking to get the ball off our foot after that second goal," Gamble said. "We were playing not to make a mistake instead of being aggressive and attacking which helped us get the lead. Once we gave away possession, it was almost like we went back in a shell and wanted to play defense instead of keeping the aggression. This hurts but I told them after the game, we made a lot of mistakes, but we were still there at the end of the game. We'll turn it around and get back to work."