Deadlocked: Warren, Slippery Rock battle to draw
For 100 minutes, Warren and Slippery Rock battled through the rain at War Memorial Field.
And at the end of the day that wasn’t enough to determine a winner, as the two teams settled for a 1-1 draw.
“It was just a good soccer match, two really good teams playing each other right to the finish,” said Warren coach Denny Flatt. “One-hundred minutes and we still couldn’t decide it.”
The steady rain, remnants of what remains of Hurricane Florence, did nothing to damper the intensity.
It was the Dragons that ultimately struck first in a battle of two of the top teams in Region 5.
Caleb Lindell took a pass from Griffin Suppa, got some space, and fired a laser past Rockets keeper Duncan McCoy just 5:39 into the contest for a 1-0 lead.
That advantage stood for all of 35 seconds before Slippery Rock’s Ryan Hinchberger tied the game on a blast of his own that skipped off the wet turf.
“That goal they had was a little unfortunate,” Flatt said. “It skipped off the turf like a rocket, but that’s soccer. I thought Tommy (Harrington) had some really nice saves.”
That was the last time either team found the back of the net, although it wasn’t for a lack of chances. Shortly before Lindell’s goal, the Dragons’ Ryon Flatt had a shot that rang off the post.
“I think we had more shots and more opportunities,” noted coach Flatt. “We were so close to getting through. I really can’t say enough.”
A majority of those chances came in the second half, and with so many of them, it’s almost hard to believe that one of them didn’t go in for the Dragons.
It began less that two minutes into the second half, when Suppa’s shot was stopped by McCoy, who played an outstanding game.
While Warren had more quality chances, Slippery Rock wasn’t completely void of opportunities, with Harrington coming into to make a sliding stop at the 31:10 mark.
The Rockets chances were limited thanks in large part to the tremendous play of the Warren back line.
“The back line of (Beck) Labesky, (Tyler) Gustafson, (Luke) Smelko, (Andy) Beyer, and Caleb Ei in the center … wow,” Flatt said. “I can’t say enough about them.”
Among the great plays made by that group was Labesky going back and denying a Slippery Rock shot just past the midway point of the second half.
With 11:30 left in regulation, Suppa’s throw in found Lindell, who was able to get enough space to fire a shot that went just wide.
“I think in the second half we really dominated, that’s why the tie is a little harder to swallow,” noted coach Flatt. “If it was the other way around, we’d probably be a little happier with the tie. We had some chances that just didn’t go through.”
Just two minutes later, Gustafson played a ball to Ei, whose shot McCoy was able to get a piece of.
The Dragons had one more opportunity in regulation when Suppa hit Devon Navaroli with a pass, but much like Lindell’s a few minutes earlier, Navaroli’s shot went just wide.
Colin Blair had a chance that went high in the first 10-minute overtime period and Harrington had a stop on a long direct kick early in the second overtime, but neither team could get the winner.
Instead, they both walked off soaked and satisfied that they left it all out there.
“I give Slippery Rock a lot of credit,” coach Flatt said. “They played with all kinds of intensity, too. You only get better by playing good teams. And we’ll see them again.
“I also want to thank all the fans who came out to watch. I really appreciate them coming out and showing their support. They got to see a gem today.”
Both teams are considered two of the three biggest contenders to win Region 5. The other is Bradford, where Warren will travel on Wednesday.
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JV: Warren 3, Slippery Rock 0
Wesley Kiehl scored all three goals and Alex Ferry got the shutout in net as the Dragons capped the night with a strong JV performance.
“Ultimately we played really, really smart soccer,” said coach Chris Darling. “They’re getting better every game. I’m really proud of them. Really exciting for the future.
“Alex Ferry played the entire match in net. He’s on fire right now. He hasn’t let a goal in a couple matches. I wanted to get him some touches at forward, but he’s just seeing the ball really well right now.”