The Lakes managed a 2-2 draw with Davenport’s JV squad on Monday in front of a full crowd at Henderson Field in their second match of the campaign.
Davenport controlled the run of play for the first few minutes of the match, but Great Lakes were the first ones on the score sheet when, in the 18th minute, a brilliant through ball from Jeremy Klepal set up Izzy Sesay, who beat one defender on the dribble before finishing the ball at the far post, giving the Crusaders a 1-0 lead, much to the delight of his teammates.
That goal opened up a slew of opportunities for the home side. In the 23rd, Marquis DeLong nearly had the beating of the keeper off of a rebound from a Klepal strike. Nine minutes later Izzy Sesay struck a free kick into the wall. In the 35th, Peter Stebbins hit a beautiful dipping ball that was only just collected by the keeper. All of these efforts came to naught, however, and GLCC went into the break with a 1-0 margin.
As the second half began, Izzy Sesay’s night met an abrupt end when he received his second yellow card for an aggressive challenge and was dismissed by the referee in the 52nd minute, leaving his team to play the rest of the match with only ten men. Davenport immediately capitalised on the pressure by winning a penalty off of a tackle from centre back Dan Jehl, and finishing the ensuing penalty to level the scores at 1-1.
Davenport continued applying the pressure on the Crusader defence, and goalkeeper Jeremy Smith responded by making a handful of brilliant saves, one on a breakaway, one from point blank range, and another one on a low, screaming free kick that required him to go to ground to stop it, keeping the scores level midway through the second half.
Unfortunately, the pressure broke in the 73rd when Smith misjudged a bouncing ball and it was picked up and finished by the Davenport striker, giving Davenport a 2-1 lead.
It appeared that Davenport had put it beyond all doubt with another goal in the 77th, but the official’s flag went up for offside and score remained at 2-1. Five minutes later, they were awarded another penalty off of a hard tackle from Danny Buegar, but Smith was able to get across to the left side of the goal, block the shot, and collect the ball to keep his team in the match.
Finally, in the 83rd minute, the Lakes answered with the equaliser. Stebbins played an excellent through ball to Brandon Coleman, who fought off a defender and slotted it underneath the charging goalkeeper to level the score at 2-2 to the absolute delight of the supporters. The final whistle blew shortly after, with both sides claiming a point in a 2-2 result.
“It was amazing,” said Coleman after the game, “I couldn’t think of anything else but to run straight to the crowd and thank them for being out here and supporting us this year. It feels good to be out here at a supportive school like this.”
“I’m kind of split down the middle (about the result)” said head coach Justin Braman, “I’m really happy about the finish, that we ended that way, with the circumstances and going down a man, and really fighting in front of the home crowd. On the other half, I’m disappointed because at halftime we talked about focus, and I think that we lost that focus with some individual players and as a team.”
“The best take away from this game, I think, is that it tested a lot of people, and it showed them what they’re capable of. I think that the fight, the grit that the ten men who were out there for most of the game had to endure is something that we can take as a team, and when we’re in those situations in the future, we can go back to this game and remember when we fought back for that tie at home.”
Game Notes: Izzy Sesay received two yellow cards and was sent off at the 52nd minute mark. He will be suspended for the team’s next match on Friday. Also receiving yellow cards were Jeremy Klepal, Michael Vickers, St. Luc Picard, and coach Justin Braman.
Up Next: The Crusaders will take on Robert-Morris Springfield on Friday at 4:00 at Henderson Field.