For the nine graduating seniors on the squad, the pre-match RHS Senior Night festivities marked the culmination of four years of hard work and a chance to reflect on their time spent at the home of the Mustangs. What a treat it was to be able to celebrate these Redmond seniors along with the rest of the proud RHS Soccer family! The packed house was raucous and ready for some mid-week soccer action under the Tuesday night lights. Both teams had a chance to earn the coveted second seed in the Districts playoffs with a win, so this was sure to be a hotly contested affair!
The beginning of the match showcased some nice pep from the RHS players, with great movement off the ball. Stein took an early jaunty crack from outside the box and although the shot on goal was saved with a desperate dive from the Eastlake keeper, the strike put a bit of concern in the brow of the Eastlake faithful. The Stangs defense was also clicking well in the early going, with all contributing to the cause. Bury “The air is great up here” impressed with his aerial assault, helped control possession for RHS, and cleared multiple balls safely out of harm’s way. It has been fun to watch him work his smart play this season. The Beast Wiyrick made his presence known with a “My shoulder is bigger than your shoulder” defensive manhandling of the Eastlake forwards. The illustrious Mr. Tibbs took his trademark scrambling to another level and had everyone on the RHS side of the pitch chanting to the opposing stands “We can’t see you scampering! We can’t see you scampering!”
For the first fifteen minutes of the contest RHS was in solid control, maintaining possession and running Eastlake ragged around the pitch. Even the miscue passes would somehow find their way back into RHS possession. Kieneker’s command of the midfield was impressive and he always seemed to find a weaving path to elude the Eastlake contingent. Stein had a couple of nice additional chances in the first half, both of which ended up just wide of the promised land. A short while later, Stein crossed a nice ball which found the noggin of Dadzie but glanced a bit high of the mark. Eastlake was also able to make some first half noise when a through ball which was pounced on by keeper Escalante squirted out of his grasp for a point-blank opportunity for the Wolves. To everyone’s amazement, the Eastlake strike somehow flew wide and RHS miraculously escaped a first-half goal deficit. To follow that up, another Eastlake offensive push just before the end of the half had a chance when another through ball penetrated the RHS box and the strike caromed off the post and wide.
Coming out of half time, RHS provided consistent pressure on the ball. Some nice smothering D by Gordon on the wing and physical presence in the middle by Michalski resulted in a stretch of good possession for Redmond. Eastlake was able to ask some questions with a very dangerous run down the wing, but the cross didn’t find the mark. Another dangerous run was snuffed out by Michalski running down and sticking like glue to the Eastlake attacker. After a number of back and forth exchanges and close calls to break the scoreless tie, Stein lobbed a ball skyward to a waiting Price on the wing who promptly spun around his defender and found daylight for a cross directly to a salivating Stein for the opening goal, 1-0 Stangs!
Eastlake kept searching doggedly for the equalizer. With impressive long distance throws from the touchline, most every Wolves toss seemed like a corner kick. With just a couple of minutes left in full time, Eastlake was able to convert on a winger’s cross into the box for the equalizer, 1-1. Before Redmond had a chance to digest what had just happened, the Wolves capitalized on the momentum switch and struck again with a cross and header goal, 1-2 Eastlake. In stoppage time, Redmond was pulling out all of the stops and were the recipients of a timely Eastlake handball in the box for a PK, which Stein promptly and expertly converted for the equalizer, 2-2!
In the first stanza of overtime, Eastlake was able to cash in on a long ball strike, catching keeper Escalante a bit too far outside to cover the ball. 2-3 Eastlake. This result would hold as the last ditch RHS long ball attempts and Eastlake time wasting would take the remainder of the second stanza. While the end result on this evening wasn’t what the Redmond fans were hoping for, the grit and fire shown throughout the match by the Stangs embodied the spirit of competition that all should aspire to. Next stop, the playoffs!
Goals: 58’ (Stein, assist Price), 80’ (Stein, PK)