- By Robbie Naugle
It took more than the 80 scheduled minutes to determine a winner between the Westmont Hilltop Hilltoppers and Somerset Golden Eagles on Tuesday afternoon. When the dust settled, the Golden Eagles came away victorious 1-0 thanks to an Adam Lorence goal less than 3 minutes into overtime.
Playing from the back out, the Golden Eagles finally broke the ice in overtime. A through ball from Maguire Egal was run onto by Lorence who slipped around a Hilltoppers defender and sent a bending shot past Westmont Hilltop goalkeeper Joe Becker to give the Golden Eagles a golden-goal victory.
“We worked to get the ball through midfield then it was just a through ball to a guy running diagonally,” Somerset coach Mark Wassilchalk said. “(Lorence) received it in stride and took one touch around a defender and put a quick shot into the net.”
For the opening 15 minutes of the contest, the visiting Golden Eagles completely controlled all aspects of the game. The Golden Eagles’ ability to hold possession of the ball and force the Hilltoppers to play in their own defensive third helped the Golden Eagles create opportunities on the offensive end.
Senior attacker Moxon Fleegle was the beneficiary of the early pressure but he was unable to get the ball on frame to test Becker in the opening minutes of play.
Having survived the opening onslaught from the Golden Eagles, the Hilltoppers settled down and were able to find their game to level the playing the field as the first half passed the midway point.
Generating offensive pressure for the first time on the afternoon, the Hilltoppers’ came within inches of an opening goal on two successive chances.
Good buildup play in the middle of the field set up Hilltoppers’ midfielder Jacob Adams with a wide open shot just outside the 18-yard box. Adams struck the ball cleanly but Golden Eagles’ goalkeeper Kurt Pucci was able to get a fingertip on the shot to knock it over the bar.
“Making moves off of the ball and not being stationary,” Hilltoppers coach Jason Hughes said about the offensive chances. “One of our biggest issues is watching the game happen and 15 minutes into the game we finally started to click.”
On the ensuing corner kick, the Hilltoppers’ came close a second time.
The corner was cleared harmlessly but defender Jon Heider collected the loose ball and sent it on goal from 30 yards out and struck the crossbar before it was cleared to safety by the Golden Eagles.
Chances fell both ways the rest of the first half but neither side could capitalize and the game remained scoreless at the halftime break.
Picking back up where they left off before halftime, both sides continued to push for the opening goal, but much like the first half neither side could find one.
A close call off the post cost the Hilltoppers in the first half but it was the Golden Eagles denied a goal by the bar in the second half.
Fleegle had been putting shots toward the opposing goal all game long and had his best chance of the afternoon inside the penalty box around the midpoint of the second half. Fleegle’s shot beat the Hilltoppers’ goalkeeper clean but struck the inside of the far post and ricocheted back across the face of goal for the keeper to cover.
Time continued to tick down but neither side could find that elusive opening goal to break the deadlock, and regulation ended scoreless.