Effingham head coach Aaron Witges was worried about what could happen after his team tied Tuesday's game against Olney with eight minutes left to play.
Witges' team held Olney to minimal scoring chances in the second half, after a three-goal outburst in the first, and kept the game tied for another seven minutes.
Olney senior Chance Madden dribbled around Effingham defenders and placed a shot on goal that batted off Effingham goalkeeper Frank Kasdorf's fingers as seconds on the clock disappeared with less than one minute left.
The ball falling to his feet, senior Alec St. Pierre took advantage, tapping into the goal for the game-winner with 45 seconds remaining, as Olney scratched its way to a 4-3 win.
“We knew (Madden) can take control of games if he wants,” Olney head coach Jason Burckhartt said. “He went for the shot, (the goalkeeper) bobbled it, and St. Pierre came through on the back end.”
At the end of a half that Burckhartt said Effingham dominated, Witges said it's tough to lose a game in the closing seconds.
“That's the kind of effort you like to see when you're down one,” Witges said. “We had other opportunities we weren't able to cash in on. The ending isn't what we wanted.”
Effingham junior Tyler Katz missed two goals by inches earlier in the second half, which would've given his team a lead late in the game. First, his free kick hit the crossbar with 24 minutes left, then a header floated over Olney goalkeeper Tyler Zuber's head and bounced off of the far post.
“Effingham was taking it to us,” Burckhartt said. “They hit the bar three times in the second half.”
Katz hit the far post a third time with nine minutes to play, which led to the eventual game-tying goal second later.
After leaving the game ten minutes earlier, Katz returned with a taped ankle to take a corner kick with nine minutes to play. Katz's corner kick bent over Zuber's head and hit the post. It settled along the goal line and players crash into each other trying to knock it in or out of the area.
“I saw about eight jerseys and 16 feet kicking at the ball in there,” Witges said. “I wasn't sure if it curved in off the corner or if someone got a head on it. (My players) still don't know.”
Olney's defense cleared it after wrestling near the goal line, but that wasn't the end of the sequence as the game referee stopped play to discuss the situation with the side judge – after Effingham players protested a possible goal.
“My guys said they were all standing there on the line keeping it from going in,” Burckhartt said.
The referee ruled the ball passed the goal line at some point during the sequence and awarded a goal to Effingham, after a conference with the side judge on that end of the field.
In his finalized game stats, Witges didn't credit anyone with the goal, although he said it might have been from Katz's corner kick or junior Michael Carie.
“That was our best chance and we were able to make something happen,” Witges said. “You don't always get the opportunities you want.”
Burckhartt said he has to go along with whatever the referee rules; however, he said his players voiced their concerns about whether or not it was actually a goal, even after the ruling.
St. Pierre made the game-tying goal irrelevant about seven minutes later when he tapped in the ball at his feet after Madden made a play to get it to him.
However, St. Pierre's goal was the only one for Olney in the second half as Effingham made an adjustment at halftime to slow the team down after a three-goal first half.
Burckhartt said Effingham started playing the ball wider on the field, and his midfielders struggled with more movement.
“With Effingham moving the ball all the time, wearing (our) guys out, we started getting a little lazy and tired, and we weren't stepping up to the ball as much,” Burckhartt said.
Witges said his team played much better after the first 30 minutes of the game that left them in a 3-1 hole, but senior Austin Wenthe headed in a goal with eight minutes left in the half.
“(Effingham) definitely won the second half,” Burckhartt said. “We knew – I told (my team) at halftime, 'This game will be a barn burner.'”
Effingham falls to 4-4-1 this season and will be back in action on Monday against Teutopolis.
Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or email@example.com.
Olney 3 1 4
Effingham 1 2 3
Goals: Madden (38:02), Wenthe 2 (31:31, 8:37), Hahn (19:10), Keller (13:25), St. Pierre (0:45), Effingham team (8:56)