Time was inexorably ticking away on St. Elizabeth’s season on Saturday in the DIAA Boys Soccer State Tournament against Wilmington Christian at Caravel Academy.
But it takes more than a one-goal deficit and less than 10 minutes on the clock for the top-seeded Vikings to panic.
So when Brandon Gautier calmly took a pass from Jimmy Kleinhomer in the 72nd minute to tie the game, it came as no surprise to coach Ed Gibbons.
“That’s our style,” Gibbons said. “Unfortunately, that’s how it works. We haven’t been able to put a full 80-minute game together yet. That last 10 minutes – that’s what this team is about. They find ways to win. I don’t know what it is but they find ways to win. They’ve got that second effort.”
With less than a minute left, Gautier then found teammate Craig Harris in the lane. Harris chipped the ball, which tipped off the goalkeeper’s hands, and into the goal as the Vikings won 2-1 to advance to Wednesday’s semifinals against either No. 4 Delmar or No. 5 St. Andrew’s.
“We never let up,” Harris said. “Our second half’s our best half. It’s not a good thing, but it is. We knew we were going to come out on top.”
No. 8 Wilmington Christian opened the scoring in the 25th minute when Spencer Lockard took a corner kick from Christian Diamanty and buried it in the net for a 1-0 lead.
But Gautier and his teammates knew they weren’t done.
“We had a game early in the season, we went down two goals and came back and won 3-2 on this exact same field, so we knew it was possible,” Gautier said. “We knew we could do it. We just went for it.”
The late loss marred a strong performance by the Warriors (10-6-1).
“It stings a little, but they are a very good team,” said coach Bret Lelko. “They kept going at us. But I don’t feel bad. I think our boys left everything out on the field. It just goes to show how hard the other team worked.”