The First Colonial boy’s soccer team held on against Grassfield for a 3-2 golden goal victory in three overtimes Friday in a thrilling conclusion to the 6A South Region final.
The Patriots faced one of their toughest challenges of the season in the visiting Grizzlies, who forced just the second overtime game of the season for First Colonial.
Senior captain Ian Roberts gave First Colonial an early lead, scoring two goals during the first 10 minutes. His team did its part to retain the lead, but a high turnover rate halfway through the period gave the Grizzlies several chances. Grassfield striker Jared Benedict scored near the end of the half, sending momentum to the visitors.
The teams traded possession and close shots for much of the second half. Grassfield shocked the Patriots in the 71st minute when Kyle Staub tied the match off a free kick that penetrated the defensive wall. First Colonial had several chances to win in regulation, but all fell short.
“I thought the first 20 minutes we were very good, [Grassfield] couldn’t get out of their half and I thought we should’ve probably had a couple other chances,” First Colonial coach Kevin Denson said. “They got that goal at the end that gave them some energy and the second half we started out okay, but we just weren’t finishing our chances and, credit to them, they had a nice goal to tie it up.”
Overtime was largely one-sided, as the Patriots kept the ball in their attacking third a majority of time and didn’t allow a shot. First Colonial continued to test the Grassfield backs through the period and changed strategy to hold the middle third, reducing turnovers.
After two overtime periods without scoring, the ball found its way back to Roberts halfway through the third period. Seeing an opening, he completed his hat trick with the game-winning goal to seal the region championship.
“Absolutely great,” Denson said of Robert’s performance. “He didn’t score in the last game, and I know he’s really frustrated with it, but to get a hat trick in a regional final, that is pretty telling about a player’s ability at this level.”
Defensively, Patriots freshman keeper Tommy Dye had six saves with two goals allowed, while Grizzlies keeper Brad Backus had nine saves and three goals allowed.
First Colonial will play the 6A North runner-up next week in the state semifinals, while Grassfield will play the 6A North champion.