It was as exciting as a 0-0 draw could be.
Underdog Sussex Central (2-1-1) was looking to make a statement and came out to put the pressure on Sussex Tech (1-1-2).
In the first 10 minutes of the game, the ball barely left the Ravens’ defensive end, resulting in a penalty inside the first four minutes.
But Perfecto Perez booted it over the top of the net. And it would end up costing the Golden Knights.
The pressure stayed for almost the entire half, and Ravens’ head coach Carlos Villa urged his team on from the sideline, telling them just to get to the second half.
The Ravens came out a lot stronger in the second half and started created chances of their own.
“You’re always going to have a game or a couple games that are challenging and things aren’t going to go your way,” Villa said. “We came out kind of flat, and they didn’t. They came out coming after us. We hung in there and we didn’t make the crucial mistake.”
Tech’s best chance came in the 71st minute when Josh Artiga split Central’s defense with a ball to Chandler Berger, who slipped it by the oncoming goalkeeper Beycker Perez.
But the offside flag was up.
With 2:56 left in the second extra time period, the offside flag would haunt the other team as Sussex Central was just caught off.
After a throw in was cleared, the Golden Knights pounded it back toward the net.
On a bounce, it hopped over the goalkeeper. Perfecto Perez read it just right and headed the ball into the open net.
First-year Sussex Central head coach Scott Bleile knew it before the ball hit the net.
“I could tell,” he said. “It was a really good call.”
Despite the draw, Bleile was happy with his team’s start to the season.
With only a loss to powerhouse Caesar Rodney, Central is off to a 2-1-1 start.
“CR is a great team,” Bleile said. “I’m not going to take anything away from him. We competed with them for a little bit. Emotionally, we’re gaining momentum now. We fought a tough one with CR, taking Tech 0-0 for basically 100 minutes — that’s a great thing.”
The key to Central’s success is how the formation is set up to the player’s strengths. Senior captain midfielders Perfecto Perez and Pedro Martinez are good going forward and staying back.
Bleile plays a patient, compact game but then the team springs into the action with track-star speed and one-on-one skill with Stanley Anderson and Davenson Dupervil.
That’s why Central attacks from the opening second.
“I don’t think there are many teams that are expecting us to come out as quick as we do,” Bleile said. “The cat’s out of the bag now. We’re going to come out firing no matter who you are.”
Anderson and the rest of the team had plenty of chances, which they regret but are still taking positives from the draw.
“It was a little frustrating but we gave it our best, and we’ll take this as a lesson and the next game we will be ready,” he said.
As for Tech, it couldn’t have been a tougher start to the season. Tying Sallies, losing after being up one to Georgetown Prep and taking care of Milford.
“We’ve had good competition this year and we haven’t done bad,” Villa said. “We have to look at what’s our demeanor as we figure that out.”
The Ravens will take positives from this game, Villa said.
It’s a wake-up call and the team will learn from it.
Defender Oscar Velasquez was constantly battling off the speedsters for Central. He said they were a lot like Sallies.
But at the end of the day, the Ravens just have to move on.
“We have to learn that every team has a bad day,” Velasquez said. “We keep going. You pick your head up.”
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