by JOEY PICKEL, for the Sun Gazette
The Yorktown Patriots had one goal in mind – winning the title – June 7 as they hosted the Langley Saxons in the boys Liberty District Tournament soccer championship match.
In a 3-2 overtime victory, the Patriots defeated the Saxons to finish 2-0 in the high-school tourney and improve to 8-3.
“I think our team played well,” Yorktown coach Carlos Aranda said. “I think we played smart. We made a few mistakes against Langley, and they punished us because of our mistakes. But anyway, soccer is a game about mistakes, and these kids are learning how to play soccer.”
The first half started quick, with both teams trading saves before Yorktown’s John McMahon scored on a sliding shot and a 1-0 Yorktown lead. For the rest of the half, the Patriots mostly controlled possession, but struggled to find the goal thanks to stout Langley defense.
In second half, Langley seemingly woke up offensively and scored on a shot from senior Phillip Bogdanov, tying up the score at 1.
“They [Langley] scored immediately and I really felt a tone shift in the game,” Yorktown’s Denny Southard said.
Realizing the fleeing momentum, the Patriots knew they had to respond. As the game played on, it seemed each team was making equal time on offense and defense, with no singular emerging the dominant. However, on a fast break, an extra motivated Taha Oubenadi took a chance on a long 25-yard shot. It was good, and the Patriots regained a 2-1 lead.
“I was so nervous since this is the first game my dad’s been able to come to. So my whole family was here,” Oubenadi said. “So my nerves were playing with me. I kind of used that to give me energy.”
Langley refused to go away, and thanks to a score by Taha Alian, the game was knotted at 2.
In overtime, the Patriots were able to keep their emotions in check.
“This team’s a brotherhood, even though we’ve only been with each other a couple of months,” senior Gibson Lusk said. “We proved that on the field how we’ve got each other’s back.”
The first half of overtime went like much of regulation. Each team seemed evenly matched. Eventually, Lusk snuck a shot into the goal despite being in a crowd of players, giving Yorktown a 3-2 lead.
For the remainder of overtime, Yorktown took the momentum and ran with it. The Patriots methodically shut the Saxons down to clinch the title.
“Just having a season this year has been awesome since we got robbed of ours last year,” Yorktown’s Devin Gibbs said. “I think we’ve made the most of this season.”