10/04/05 — Gators clip Eagles in OT

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Gators clip Eagles in OT

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 4, 2005 2:07 PM

SEVEN SPRINGS -- Jose Ramirez didn't miss the second time.

After misfiring on a potential game-winning goal in regulation, the Spring Creek forward found the mark in overtime. Shadowed by three purple-shirted Rosewood defenders, Ramirez managed to keep possession and dribble toward goal.

Eagle keeper Trevor Morris refused to come off his line and protected the near post. Ramirez, like he did in regulation, ripped a shot toward the far post. The ball bounced into the back of the net and the Gators prevailed 4-3 in the Class 1-A Carolina/Tar-Roanoke Conference affair.

Ramirez notched his first-ever natural hat trick (three consecutive goals) and Spring Creek (2-3-1, 1-2 C/T-RC) snapped its three-match losing streak. The Gators earned their first-ever home win against the Eagles and just their second overall in the series.

Rosewood (4-6) just missed converting two corner kicks after Ramirez's goal and departed 1-1 against league opposition.

"It's all about heart for these guys," said first-year Gators coach Gordon Crocker, who pumped his arms in jubilation after Ramirez's shot. "We were thin tonight and nine guys played one hundred minutes."

The contest carried an offensive flavor in the opening half.

Goss Kendall headed a pass from Trey Kriger into goal in the seventh minute after Kriger headed a corner kick from junior Elliott Lee. The Gators' Mario Velasquez answered two minutes later on an unassisted goal.

Nearly 10 minutes later, Elliott received a throw-in from Kriger and served it into the box. Kriger, who rushed into the penalty area, missed the header and the ball landed at Travis Mitchell's feet.

Mitchell tucked it into goal for a 2-1 advantage.

Ramirez began work on his three-goal performance in the 28th minute. The Eagles turned the ball over near their penalty area and sweeper Kyle Bunn stabbed at the ball as Ramirez gained possession.

Ramirez side-stepped Bunn and found himself one-on-one against Morris. One quick strike later, the Gators had forged a 2-2 tie.

"We made some mistakes in the back and they converted them," said Rosewood coach Daniel Mitchell. "Hopefully, we understand that we can't relax after we score a goal. We have to do better at that and play a little sharper in the back ... miscleared balls and balls we swung at and missed.

"At times, if we didn't pick them up in the middle, they were able to run at us and put us back on our heels. That put us in a bad spot."

Each team continued working its offense.

Rosewood smartly built attacks from its backfield and the midfielders pushed the ball forward to either Kriger, Kendall or Lee. The timely passing created open lanes for the trio, but none could finish off the attack until the 37th minute.

Bunn trapped a ball near midfield and dribbled through the Gator defense toward the 18-yard box. With a three-man advantage, Bunn dropped a pass off to Kriger. Kriger blasted a shot from the left side that deflected off Spring Creek keeper Manuel Moreno and into goal.

Ramirez got loose again and tallied the equalizer on a wide-open shot in the 6-yard area. The teams entered halftime tied at 3-3 and battled for the next 60 minutes until Ramirez capped the Gators' second home win of the season.

"That's been the story of the last three ball games," said Crocker. "We'd come back and tie it. They'd go ahead, we'd come back and tie it. But always at the end, we'd give them a couple of goals.

"We talked about playing eighty minutes and not giving up."

Each team expended considerable energy in the first half.

Rosewood endured spells of sluggish play and Mitchell agreed his team came up one pass short on several second-half possessions. Several players didn't look upfield once they received passes on the wing, and they failed to recognize open teammates in the midfield.

Moreno and Morris kept their respective teams in the game with phenomenal saves on point-blank shots. Morris concluded the double-OT affair with nine stops, while Moreno -- in his second start -- collected two saves.

"This is the first game we've had with this intensity at this level and it showed at times ... for both teams," said Mitchell.

The Eagles' Drew Kriger missed a head-on shot in the first overtime. Gator defender Haroldo Brovo cleared a ball against Kendall after Moreno drifted off his line and left the goal open.

Ramirez finally connected in the 98th minute, but Rosewood didn't quit. Travis Mitchell missed a header that dropped right into Moreno's hands early in the second OT. Trey Kriger and Kendall each missed direct headers in the final two minutes of the game.

"Elliott sent us two great balls over goal," said coach Mitchell. "We've done well on our corner kicks this year, but just couldn't finish it."

Crocker couldn't have been more pleased with his team's ability to respond to each Eagle goal. Five players, including two key forwards, couldn't play.

"We were thin tonight and nine guys played one hundred minutes," said Crocker, who used just two subs. "We slowed down a little bit (in the second half), had several shots that we didn't make, and we didn't get back on defense.

"We were fortunate to win and we beat a good team."