Panthers, Falcons battle to 1-1 draw
By SHAUN ANICH
NORTHVILLE – The Northville Falcons evened the score with 2:20 remaining in regulation before playing to a 1-1 tie against the Mayfield Panthers on Wednesday in a Western Athletic Conference matchup at Northville High School.
The Falcons dominated possession throughout and outshot Mayfield 18-6, but trailed for the duration of the game.
After 16 minutes of tentative play on the part of both teams, Mayfield’s Todd Briggs took advantage of a one-on-one opportunity with Northville goalkeeper Tim Monette. Briggs found the back of the net for Mayfield’s lone goal of the game.
Six minutes later Briggs found himself with a similar look. Briggs chased down a loose ball that was heading for the Northville goal as Monette came out to snatch it away. Briggs’ foot made contact with the ball at the same time as Monette, a combination of blows which sent the ball hard into Monette’s stomach and Briggs to the grass with a leg injury.
“When Todd Briggs went down in the first half with a little knock we lost a lot of our offensive movement going forward,” said Mayfield head coach Jon Caraco.
Briggs, who leads Mayfield with 12 goals on the season, limped off the field but would return early in the second half.
Despite his presence, Mayfield struggled to keep the ball away from Northville’s offensive end. Northville made run after run at Mayfield goalkeeper Lucas VanNostrand but couldn’t convert. One of the Falcons best chances came with 26 minutes remaining when Tyler Henderson passed a ball just past the feet of Dan Reidell in front of the Mayfield goal.
“It’s easy to get frustrated at that point when we get opportunities and we can’t quite put it away”, said Northville head coach Steve Clapper.
The Panthers didn’t put their first shot of the half on goal until there were 5 minutes remaining. They got off two more shots in the following two minutes, both of which were well off the mark. Despite their struggles, Mayfield clung to a 1-0 lead in the waning minutes.
“I thought we did a great job of bending and not breaking,” said Caraco. “We absorbed the pressure well and got a few chances there at the end of the second half where I thought we might, with a little luck, get an insurance goal.”
There was no such luck for Mayfield, as Northville’s Wolfgang Reinke tapped a ball through the hands of VanNostrand with 2:20 remaining in regulation to knot the score at one apiece. Kalob Russell assisted on the goal for the Falcons.
“It brings out the character in these guys that they were willing to fight the entire time, to never give in, never throw in the towel, and just keep fighting right until the opportunity presented itself,” said Clapper.
Brandon Blowers ripped a shot for Northville in the first overtime period; it was the only shot for either team.
Three minutes into the second overtime, Reidell sent a shot past VanNostrand for what the home crowd celebrated as the game winner.
The goal was disallowed as offside was called before the ball left Reidell’s foot. Briggs rocketed a shot from up close for the Panthers with two minutes remaining that barely sailed over the crossbar before time ran out on both sides.
“Whenever you have a Mayfield/Northville game, no matter how either team is doing, you know it’s going to be an awesome experience, and I think this was a really good show,” said Clapper.
VanNostrand finished with 14 saves for the Panthers, while Monette made three stops for the Falcons.
Both teams will be in action Friday at 4:15 p.m. The Panthers will be in Galway to take on the Golden Eagles, with the Falcons making a trip to Saratoga to face Saratoga Catholic.