Even though it earned only a point in the standings on Wednesday night, the Indian Rivers girls soccer team had cause to celebrate in earning a share of its first division championship in more than a decade.
Paige Fayette and Erin Hesse each scored within a span of two minutes in the second half as Indian River rallied to post a 2-2 draw against Watertown to clinch at least a tie for the A Division girls soccer title in the Frontier League.
By closing out their league schedule with a tie, the Warriors (9-4-1, 8-3-1) maintain a two-point advantage in the A Division over the Cyclones. Watertown (7-3-3, 6-2-3), winner of the past two division titles, can secure a share of the crown with a victory in its regular-season finale at General Brown on Saturday.
This is awesome, Hesse said. Last year we were playoff champs, but not league champs. So to tie with Watertown is pretty good because theyre pretty impressive because theyve won it he last two years.
Despite missing out on a chance to win the division outright, Indian River players celebrated after time expired after holding off a furious charge by the Cyclones in overtime.
Sure it was a tie, but the way we came from 2-0 is a nice thing because the girls never gave up, said Indian River coach Duane Dusharm, whose team last won a division title in 2000.
This was a really good, competitive soccer game, Watertown coach Mike VanNostrand said. It was a lot of fun and you have to give credit to Indian River, theyre a good team. I thought both teams played well.
Trailing 2-0 through the first half, the Warriors finally broke through in the 60th minute as Caitlin Pacilio worked the ball past a pair of defenders and sent a pass to Fayette who scored into the right corner of the goal.
I think in the second half, we just played the ball better, Hesse said. We got to the ball first and we were more intense and got the field from one side of the field to the other more than they did.
Indian River struck again for the tying goal just one minute and 41 seconds later on a corner kick as Hesse curled the ball into the right side of the net.
Its hard when you go up 2-0 and then give up two goals in the second half like that, Watertowns Brianne Arthur said. I think they were fired up in the second half and they really came out and pressured us and did very well.
While Watertown held the Warriors without a shot on goal in both 10-minute overtime periods, the Cyclones had several quality scoring opportunities, including a direct kick that goalie Lakeisha Barnes (11 saves) bobbled, but secured in the second extra session.
Arthur had a pair of chances in the final two minutes the second when she broke in close on a breakaway, but shot the ball off the top of the goal with two minutes remaining.
We have to win on Saturday to share the title with them, Arthur said. But its bittersweet because its always nice winning the Frontier League, but its hard sharing it with someone.
The Warriors, meanwhile, are happy to share.
It was their senior night and to come back from a 2-0 deficit and to tie them on their home field feels pretty good, Hesse said. We hung in there well.
The Cyclones, who carried the play in the first half, led 1-0 on senior Morgan Cadwells goal in the 32nd minute as she took a pass from Darcy Dyer and powered the ball into the upper left corner of the net.
Arthur then scored with 13 seconds remaining in regulation to build a two-goal lead on wind-aided free kick from 30 yards out that was misplayed.
Katie Aldrich finished with six saves for Watertown.
Indian River, which finished second in the division last year and defeated Watertown in last years A Division playoff, blanked the Cyclones, 3-0 in the first meeting this season on Sept. 19.
We have progressed well as a team, Dusharm said. And our division has been so close this year, so its kind of fitting that we tied tonight.
Concluded VanNostrand: Now we have to win on Saturday and we still control our destiny. Were not going to take anybody for granted.