MAHOPAC, N.Y.— The game isn’t over until the final whistle blows and Mahopac’s boys soccer team had to learn that the hard way Wednesday, Sept. 27, against visiting Roy C. Ketcham under the lights.
Ultimately faltering by a score of 3-2, the Indians put the pedal to the metal on the opponent for the vast majority of the contest and confidently took a 2-0 edge into the final 12 minutes of play.
After a series of questionable penalty calls and capitalization on scoring opportunities by Ketcham, the game suddenly slipped away.
Allowing their first goal inside the 78th minute, the Indians watched the opposition score off a counterattack to set the stage.
Junior goalkeeper Joe Muratore saved a header that was tapped twice by Ketcham with just three minutes to go, but Mahopac was forced to defend for too long in its own end.
Inside a chippy final two minutes, Ketcham converted on another header, this time on a free-kick that spiraled a seemingly easy victory into overtime.
“We started rushing (with 10 minutes left in the game),” Mahopac coach Jim Gencarelli said. “But we didn’t have to; let’s take our time and catch our breath a little bit.”
As it had done for most of the game, Mahopac opened overtime by maintaining possession and throwing the heat back on the opposing Indians.
Senior midfielder Nick Estrada dished to junior James O’Brien toward the middle of the crease, but his shot was wide-left.
Junior goalie Kevin Valdes, who played both the first half and overtime, knocked away a sharp shot from a long distance to fend off the counter.
Now with less than five minutes to play, Ketcham officially snatched the win after benefiting from a perfectly placed corner kick that nobody touched as it sailed into the left side of the net.
“Toward the end, we got away from possession,” Gencarelli said. “We tried to do too much individually and when we don’t have the numbers high and they transition on us, that doesn’t help. We left chances on the board to take this game away.”
Before the late collapse, the home team clearly outplayed Ketcham, holding onto possession and speeding downfield while sharing the ball at ease.
“This was one of our better games,” Gencarelli said. “It didn’t end well for us, but our shape and movement as a team was great. Today we played really well as a team and defensively we shifted together.”
Striking first in the 15th minute, the Indians got a goal from junior forward Niko DeCola, who received a perfect through ball from senior midfielder Augie Djerdjaj.
Mahopac continued to threaten for most of the second half and the star duo connected again in the 49th minute on a corner kick.
On the same exact page, DeCola spotted Djerdjaj precisely for a headed goal that put the Indians ahead, 2-0.
“Augie and Niko up top are really instrumental,” Gencarelli said. “Even with Max Lichtman in the middle, who is really great at controlling the ball and has great vision to direct who to give the ball to. They all have a good understanding of where they need to go off the ball.”
Muratore prevented five shots and Valdes stopped two in the setback.
Mahopac (4-5-1) bounced back against the same team, winning by the same final score as it defeated host Ketcham 3-2 in overtime on Oct. 2. Djerdjaj tallied the game winner in OT. DeCola had a goal and two assists, while O’Brien netted one goal. Valdes and Muratore combined for seven saves.