LAKEWOOD — With circumstances piling up against them, Chatfield’s boys soccer team were just 12 seconds away from leveling the playing field against Regis.
Yes, the Chargers would have missed dismissed co-captain Billy LaGreca in a penalty shootout, but they would get to hang a lot hope on goalkeeper Aaron Sarfaty, who had played great for more than 109 minutes.
That conversation was rendered moot when the No. 11 Raiders headed home a free kick in the dying seconds of the second overtime for a 2-1 victory that knocked the Chargers out of the Class 5A state tournament.
Sarfaty, who had made nine saves, never had a chance to stop the ball as it headed for his far post and propelled the Raiders into the state quarterfinals.
“On that ball we probably should have been top of the 18,” Chargers coach Paul Moline said. “We talked about that all day in giving our goalkeeper a little more room to win that ball. We sagged in to about the 12. At that point, we’re sitting in more defensively.”
The No. 6 Chargers (12-4-1) were defensive in more ways than one.
After going up 1-0 Jake Meyer’s goal early in the second half, the Chargers had kept the Raiders (13-4-0) at bay until they were whistled for a penalty kick with 3:52 remaining. The Raiders converted to send the game into overtime, where LaGreca would be sent off in the 99th minute.
Survival to the penalty shootout seemed like the best option, but the Raiders nixed it, although the Chargers were sure Dirk MacDonald was offside. Several Chatfield players chased the referees off the field to protest the no-call.
Although soccer statistics often lie, the numbers did speak of the kind of storm the Chargers weathered early at Lakewood Memorial Field. The Raiders outshot the Chargers 11-4 and had a 10-2 advantage in corner kicks. Chatfield was outshot 7-1 in the first half.
“We missed opportunities, too, when we should have put balls on frame, we took an extra touch here and there,” Moline said.
That tendency for skill over direct play probably had a part in the opening goal. The ball was sent in from the left side and right winger Cory Whittwer cut in and managed an acrobatic cross to the front of the goal. Meyer was there to nod it home and reverse the run of play.
Meyer’s stunner and Chatfield’s physical play seemed to knock the air out of the Raiders for most the second half. Regis began to press more in the final 15 minutes and Sarfaty produced a brilliant save on a drive in the 67th minute.
But then a nudge just off the ball in the penalty area with less than four minutes remaining allowed the Raiders to equalize and eventually send the game into overtime.
The Chargers were whistled for 44 fouls compared to 11 by Regis.
“We’re a very physical team,” Moline said.