The term ‘last-second’ often is an exaggeration.
Wednesday at Northern Nash High School, it was quite literal.
Wilson Hunt earned a penalty kick in the last second of regulation to send the game to extra time, then the Warriors earned another penalty in the last second of the first extra time period.
The two penalties proved to be the difference as Hunt topped Northern Nash, 4-3, in a near-impossible win.
“I could’ve sworn it was over,” Hunt coach Scott Summers said. “I told the guys after the game that I don’t know what they did to deserve that. That just doesn’t happen. That’s something for the movies.”
Hunt (9-5-1, 5-1 Big East Conference) would have been lucky to earn a draw out of a game that saw all of the scoring come after halftime.
The Knights (8-4-2, 2-4) created a 2-0 advantage early in the second half with a pair of quality goals.
Tucker Daughtridge blocked a Hunt clearance and played Connor Woodburn into space, and Woodburn took one touch and fired to the top left corner of the goal for a 41st-minute tally.
“I saw them overcrowded to my right, so I just flicked into space on my left,” Daughtridge said. “I hit Connor and he had a great finish.”
Six minutes after the Knights’ opening goal, newly-healthy forward Joey Simpson executed an excellent display of hold-up possession.
Simpson created the build up with three consecutive one-touch passes, the last of which led Sammy Cervantes into the box for a 2-0 lead.
“We talked about it at halftime, Northern Nash works hard and they fight for every ball,” Summers said. “They’re an aggressive team, and sometimes it’s not the team with the most skill, but the team with more heart.”
Northern Nash’s lead was short-lived.
A scramble in the box led to a ball that found the head of Hackney Tulloss to make the score 2-1 in the 50th-minute.
Seven minutes later, Hunt’s Juan Anguiano leveled the score with a hard shot that left Northern Nash keeper Ben Roy with little chance.
In the 61st-minute, though, Northern Nash wrestled the lead right back with Tyler Jones' goal.
Jones came out of a goal-mouth scramble with the ball, and his finish gave the Knights a 3-2 lead they looked destined to hold.
Hunt dominated the final 20 minutes of regular time but couldn’t seem to find a goal. Roy twice stopped point-blank efforts.
Twice more he spoiled dangerous attacks by claiming the ball just ahead of a Hunt attacker.
The Warriors nearly found an equalizer in the 79th minute but had two shots blocked, the second by Simpson scrambling to keep the ball out of Northern Nash’s exposed net.
A minute later, though, an unfortunate deflection hit Simpson’s wrist for a handball with 79 minutes and 59 seconds elapsed.
Juan Anguiano put away the resulting penalty kick to even the score.
“The referee was right there and he made the decision,” Northern Nash coach Joe McCarthy said. “If we don’t even make a play on the ball, the game’s over. The clock runs out because the ball never gets to the net. But we did.”
Hunt’s Ernesto Blanco just missed a chance seven minutes into the first extra time period, and Northern Nash looked to keep the score unchanged through the first 10 extra minutes.
With one second remaining in the first extra time period, however, a Northern Nash defender blatantly brought down Blanco in the box, then Jose Anguiano scored the penalty kick.
The Knights didn’t attempt a shot thereafter.
“They all played hard. I just hate that two simple, stupid mistakes changed the outcome of the game,” McCarthy said. “That’s what it boils down to.”
McCarthy, in his 25th season as the Knights coach, said a game like Wednesday was a first for him.
“I definitely haven’t been part of match in all my years where two PKs decided the outcome of the game,” he said.
The loss was the latest in a series of close losses for Northern Nash.
The Knights lost, 2-1, in extra time to Wilson Fike, and lost by one to Hunt earlier this season.
Northern Nash has shown significantly more attacking ability than it had in the past two years, and McCarthy said his team can hang with just about anybody.
He just hopes the Knights’ luck turns around before the end of the season.
“We’ve played with everybody all year,” McCarthy said. “Nobody has put us under the mat at all. We’re just a team that comes to play every game.”
Wilson Hunt 4
Northern Nash 3 (A.E.T.)
Goals: WH: Hackney Tulloss 50’; Juan Anguiano 57’, 80’ (pen.); Jose Anguiano 90’ (pen.). NN: Connor Woodburn 41’; Sammy Cervantes 50’; Tyler Jones 61'.
Assists: NN: Tucker Daughtridge; Joey Simpson.
Shots: WH: 34 (17). NN: 17 (3).
Saves: Ben Roy (NN) - 11.
Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9952 or npiotrowicz@ rmtelegram.com