High School Soccer
Hawks come through in clutch to reach Final 4
ALBANY – Yogi Berra didn’t play soccer, but Heritage School soccer midfielder Kyle Shuman provided the perfect example of why “it ain’t over, till it’s over.”
For the Hawks in Friday’s trip to the GISA Class AAA Elite 8 against Region 3 champion Deerfield-Windsor, Shuman’s hustle to a loose ball heading toward the sidelines made all the difference in a 1-0 overtime victory that sent Heritage into next week’s Final Four.
With both teams held scoreless for 99 minutes, a play that started with Shuman chasing down a ball headed out of bounds in the last of two overtime periods matured into the game-winner when the Hawks midfielder found teammate Cole Bridges.
With the clock ticking under 30 seconds, Bridges sent a cross that found teammate David Martin, in turn, beat Deerfield’s keeper for the game-winner that continued a remarkable 2014 season for Heritage, which hadn’t had much of any playoff success in boys soccer since a Class AA state title in 2004.
Suddenly, the Hawks, who finished second in 1-AAA to Holy Spirit, find themselves one more win away from returning to a state boys soccer final.
“With eight seniors, the leadership on this team has been incredible,” said first-year Heritage coach Nathan Watts. “We practiced well all week. I’ve told our guys, it’s not the result. It’s how we play the game.”
The Hawks, who improved to 14-2 this season, will now travel to Westminster-Augusta for next week’s semifinals. The Region 4-AAA champions defeated Mount de Sales in the quarterfinals after earning the tournament’s top seed and a first-round bye.
Getting past Deerfield came down to surviving a lineup that dominated possession and wore Heritage down through 80 minutes of regulation.
“They were one of the better coached teams we’ve faced,” said Watts. “We knew that was going to be their style of play. We counter attacked and we got really tired.”
Hawks 6-foot-3 sophomore keeper Cole Jones, meanwhile, helped keep his team in the game in the closing minutes of the second half by stopping a penalty kick. The first-year goalie, who starred for Heritage’s football and continued an impressive debut on the soccer field while recording the shutout.
Earlier this season, Jones made four stops on nine attempts in a victory over rival Trinity Christian.
“We had a handball in the box and Cole came through again for us,” said Watts, who summed up the win by adding, “We’re in semi-shock right now.”