Hit posts, 20 minutes of nervous extra time, vicious sways in momentum, hard fouls, bragging rights, two entirely different halves – perhaps only a draw was the fair result.
For the second time this season, neither Rocky Mount Academy nor Faith Christian could find a breakthrough goal, finishing level at 2-2 Tuesday at Faith Christian.
“This has always been a heated match,” Faith Christian coach Tyler Hendricks said. “Our guys are always pumped to play RMA, and RMA is always pumped to play us, and it just becomes a rivalry thing.”
The Patriots (5-7-3, 0-5-2 Eastern Plains Independent Conference) dominated the first half and looked well on their way to their first conference victory.
With Rocky Mount Academy (2-7-3, 1-4-2 EPIC) goalkeeper Selden Bullock on the bench to start the game, Faith Christian took advantage. A blocked shot in the second minute fell to the feet of a wide open Brandon Sanderford, who tapped it home to make the score 1-0.
Faith Christian doubled the lead on a well-done run of play in the 18th minute. Seth Fisher played Grey Clark wide to the goalkeeper’s left, then Clark led Chase Roupp into the box, where his hard shot was too much for goalkeeper Steven Sin.
The Patriots nearly went up, 3-0, but Dustin Hendricks’ 32nd-minute free kick struck the post.
“At halftime we said to each other that we need to be better and have more confidence on the ball,” Rocky Mount Academy forward Andrew Weatherly said. “In the second half we did.”
The Eagles went from often having nine men in their defending third to a controlled build-up, which paid off with Ford Jolley’s 55th-minute goal off a throw-in.
The Eagles leveled with an excellent run of their own. Mark Gooding crossed from right to left, and Grayson Reams dropped the ball to the feet of Weatherly, who chipped the ball over Faith Christian goalkeeper Matthew Sanderford.
“I was very confident the whole game that we would win,” Rocky Mount Academy coach James Westcott said. “Unfortunately you need two halves.”
The Eagles controlled extra time, but Grimes Clark hit the bar in their only real chance.
“We showed (Tuesday) our record isn’t reflective of our quality,” Westcott said.