Pate's PK caps miracle comeback
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 14, 2011 1:49 PM
Damon Pate hopped in the saddle and rode Goldsboro High to victory Tuesday evening.
Pate converted the game-winning penalty kick with 25 seconds left in regulation, lifting the Cougars to a miraculous 4-3 comeback over Lakewood at Cougar Stadium.
Goldsboro triumphed for the first time in seven tries this season.
"It just seems we're more of a latter (second) half team," said Pate. "We seem to pick it up knowing we're out of time and need to do something. We get in the saddle and ride. Once we get going it's really hard to stop us."
The Cougars galloped in the final six minutes.
Pate trimmed the Leopards' advantage to 3-2 with an unassisted goal in the 74th minute. Nearly three minutes later, Osiel Valdes ran onto a loose ball in the midfield and flicked it to Pate, who was making a run toward the left side of the 18-yard box. Draped by a Lakewood defender, Pate dribbled into the box and ripped a right-footed, game-tying shot toward the back post.
"The team really started to pick it up, started hustling and we tried to attack the goal," said Pate. "Coach (Jim Phillips) knew we had it in us. We helped each other out. I was able to get the ball every once a while to see what happens."
A small Goldsboro crowd held its collective breath the next two-plus minutes.
Lakewood senior midfielder Rolando Ortiz raced by his defender and fired a shot on goal, which forced Goldsboro keeper Chris Wiggins to back pedal toward the line. Wiggins made a glove save and the deflection rolled back to Ortiz, who drilled a low liner at the near post.
Wiggins slid and blocked the shot with his body.
"He kicked them right to me, but it was still heart-pounding when he shot it at me because I didn't think I was going to stop either one of those," said Wiggins, who logged 12 saves. "He got me back-tracking, shot it to the side and I had to reach over and get it."
The rejuvenated Cougars (1-6-0 overall) worked the ball back upfield.
Goldsboro pushed the ball into the 18-yard box with ease and drew a foul. Pate stepped to the line, took a deep breath and fired a shot past the outstretched gloves of Lakewood keeper Martin Devin.
It was Pate's first natural hat trick (three consecutive goals) and boosted his season total to six goals.
"When you take a PK like that, you know this is it," said Pate. "The things running through my mind were ridiculous. I'm calm under pressure, knew where I was going to put it and put it there. He just happened to slip up and it went in.
Lakewood (1-5-0) led 2-0 at halftime on goals by Ortiz off assists from Josh Walker.
Goldsboro trimmed the lead in half in the 46th minute. Anthony Dobson controlled possession from the midfield and connected on a one-touch pass to Ethan Minshew. Minshew booted the ball forward to Jeff Martinez, who trapped it with his chest and delivered a right-footed scoring shot.
Walker scored eight minutes later for the Leopards to make it 3-1.
"We make mistakes, rookie mistakes (and) unfortunately Lakewood capitalized on a lot of our mistakes," said Phillips. "When we play mistake-free ball, I think that's when you're going to see us winning 3-1 and 4-0, and I'm going to breathe in the second half of the game.
"It kind of feels like a miracle finally getting a win, especially after feeling like we could have won every game we've played, except one or two. I'm always looking for the best plays from my players, but I have to keep reminding myself these are freshmen and sophomores playing a varsity sport, and they're really overachieving when they're making 50- to 60-percent of their plays."
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