Pal-Mac senior DJ Lanning scored his first goal of the year and Naples senior Kyle Johnson nailed his second as the Red Raiders and the Big Green settled for a 1-1 draw after two overtimes Thursday night.
The evening got off to a wet start as a squall broke into Wayne County 90 seconds into the game with high winds and torrents of rain. The teams played through that for five minutes, then just as things settled down, Lanning lofted a ball toward the Naples goal from 20 yards away with 34:13 left in the half.
"It was a split-second decision," he said. "I saw my outside player, Noah West, and I kind of threw the ball into the mixer."
Naples goalie Gawain Robinson had an ugly sight line on Lanning's shot. He had guys in front of him, and Lanning was so far away, the ball was coming out of a dark background into what was now a much brighter sky.
Robinson picked up the ball in flight, but it was over West's head, over the keeper's hands, and into the corner of the net.
"I was pretty surprised I stuck it in there," Lanning admitted. "It was pretty close to the pipe."
That goal held up until 13:12 left to play, when Johnson, who already had a shot on goal, punched in his team's only score on a play where he broke out of the crowd in front of Pal-Mac keeper Cooper Zurich. Flynn Willsea got the assist.
Johnson's goal came at one of several turning points in the game. Naples, a bigger team physically than Pal-Mac, pretty much had its way with the Raiders in the first 50 minutes, keeping the ball on the Pal-Mac side of the field and maintaining pressure on Zurich, who made nine saves in the game.
With 30 minutes left to play and his kids looking content with the one-goal lead, Pal-Mac coach Chris Mahnke yelled "I want shots" from the sideline, and his team responded, upping the tempo and attacking the Big Green goal with vigor.
But despite the shelling — the Raiders out-shot Naples 13-8 in the second half — Johnson's game-tying score was quality in the face of quantity.
"Our heads were in it tonight," said Mahnke. "But we got a little too spirited and we lost our focus. That was a battle. A great game. A game like that will do wonders for us down the road and do wonders for our conditioning."
In the second half especially, Pal-Mac's Jarrett Duchesneau lifted the level of his game to repeatedly become the vanguard on Raider drives, but the Naples defense was able to meet him repeatedly — literally head on.
Mahnke said he loved to play Naples. "They're a good, respectful group. In the Finger Lakes League, this is exactly the kind of game you look for," the coach said.
Page 2 of 2 - Naples coach Ryan Betrus said he felt his kids controlled the game for long stretches. "We got guys who play a lot of soccer," he said. "They pass well; there were times when we had four or five passes. We play good-looking soccer, but we've got to get that last pass. We were doing a really nice job but you've got to get that last pass into the back of the net."
The tie puts Pal-Mac's record at 3-1-1 (2-0-1 league); Naples is 2-1-1 (1-0-1 in the league). Pal-Mac had 21 shots (7 on goal) to Naples' 16 (5 on goal).