The Meadowdale Mavericks continued their five-game win streak in dramatic fashion. Down 2-1 and in stoppage time, Stuart Smith floated a ball over the Stanwood Spartans defense and into the box. Austin Panek fought off a defender for the ball and slid the ball between goaltender Riley Martin’s legs to tie the game at 2. Then, in the last two minutes of overtime, Taylor Linton fired a throw-in into the goal box and Tristan Springer headed the ball off the crossbar and in to win the game. It was one of very few balls the Mavericks won in the air since the Spartans defense had a huge height and physical advantage over the Maverick forwards, and Springer made the most of it.
Stanwood opened the scoring in the 11th minute and it took until the 65th minute before the Mavs tied the game up. The Spartans struck again three minutes after Meadowdale’s first goal but the Mavericks came back to win 3-2.
Most of the game was spent in the Spartans’ half and the first 8 minutes were all Mavericks. In the 1st minute, a drop pass by a Stanwood defender was stolen by Panek. He dribbled into the box and then fired a bad angled shot over the net. Four minutes later, Linton hit the ball up to Panek, who then found Colton Davis breaking forward into the box. Davis fired a shot that went wide. On the counter in the 9th minute, the Spartans got some pressure on the Mavs. Alex Esary sent a through ball to Laurence Wanabisi and he got behind the defense. Wanabisi got into the box before Alec Norton, sprinting back, stole the ball away before he could shoot.
In the 11th minute, Stanwood took the lead. Noah Heintz took a throw-in to the box that got over a couple of players and to Esary’s feet. Esary slid the ball past Mark Steinke and into the bottom corner of the net to make it 1-0. Stanwood immediately changed their formation to a very defensive style. They placed nine defenders in the box whenever Meadowdale had possession in the Spartans’ side. The Mavs struggled to make headway against the physical backline; even though they dominated possession, they weren’t able to get many good shots off.
In the 15th minute, Smith took a free kick near the corner of the goal box and sent in a cross that Martin caught. Then, eight minutes later, Nathan Redd fought through a couple of defenders for a loose ball in the goal box and sent a hard shot straight at Martin that was saved. Then in the 25th minute, Smith found Taylor Von der Hofen, who then sent a drop pass right back to Smith. He fired a 25-yard shot that went over the crossbar. Three minutes later, Ryan Healy took a long free kick into the box that Steinke caught. The Mavs went on a counter immediately after and Linton sent a through ball to Jonathan Flores got to in the goal box, but his first touch went straight to Martin. In the 36th minute, the Spartans defense tried to clear the ball from the box, but a defender whiffed on it and the ball bounced into the middle of the box to Springer. He took a low shot that Martin managed to save. The half ended with the score 1-0 Stanwood.
The Mavs continued to press for the tying goal in the second half. In the 44th minute, Smith sent a corner kick into the box that was cleared. A minute later, Flores was given room at the top of the box and fired a shot wide of the net. In the 49th minute, Springer dribbled past a couple of defenders into the goal box only to run in to more defenders. The ball bounced to Davis, who was also in the box, and he tried a one-timer that was blocked and eventually cleared. Seven minutes later, Smith took a free kick from 40 yards out and put the ball into the box; Martin caught it before Norton could head the ball into the open net. Martin threw the ball out quickly to get on the counter. Wanabisi got down the sidelines and hit a cross into the box that Colin Cuchna headed just wide of the net.
The Mavs tried to get cute with their set plays in the 58th and 59th minutes. Instead of trying to win battles for headers versus the taller Spartans, Springer sent a corner kick ball low to the top of the box, where Smith attempted a shot and was fouled on the play. Then on the free kick right outside the box, Smith got up fast and sent a low ball forward in the box that Martin pounced on. In the 63rd minute, Springer sent a low cross in to the box to Davis that he one-timed just wide of the net. Finally, the Mavericks tied the game up in the 65th minute. They earned a free kick from 25 yards out and straight in front of the goal. Smith came up to take the kick, and instead of trying another trick play, he floated the ball in to the top right corner of the goal to tie the game at 1. Martin didn’t have a chance.
The Spartans struck back three minutes later. Ben VanSant sent a low cross into the box to Nathan Thompson. Thompson dribbled around the final defender and slid the ball in to the bottom-right corner of the net to allow the Spartans to re-take the lead. The Mavs furiously tried to counter. In the 70th minute, Smith took a 30 yard free kick in to the box that Springer headed wide of the net; it was probably the first air ball the team won. Seven minutes later, Redd dribbled in to the box and found some space. He was at such an awful angle that he was forced to send a cross through. Davis got a foot on the ball but sent it wide. Finally, in the 78th minute, the Mavs re-tied the game. After the Spartans cleared the ball down the field, the Mavs started the counter. Rather than trying to build up the play from the sidelines, Smith tried something different: he hit a high through lob ball over the Spartans’ defense. Panek only had to fight one defender for the ball as Martin stayed in net. Panek somehow managed to settle the ball down in the box, though it seemed like he might’ve committed a handball while trying to. Panek took one-touch and sent his shot between the legs of goaltender Martin. He got a piece of the ball, but it barely crossed the line. That tied the game at 2 and the game had to go to overtime.
There was only one chance in the first overtime for either side. Panek sent the ball forward to Flores in to the box and Flores’ shot was blocked and cleared. The teams continued to play defensively in the second overtime, but the Mavs found a way to win. In the 4th minute of 2nd OT, Linton took a long throw-in that got into the box while still in the air. Springer beat his defender to inside position and headed the ball off the crossbar that bounced down and into the net. Since overtime ends after the first goal is scored, Springer’s header gave the Mavericks a huge 3-2 victory.
With the win, the Mavericks improve to 6-3-1 (5-2 in conference), and play again on Monday at Marysville-Pilchuck at 7:30 p.m. The Spartans fall to 4-5-1 (3-4 in conference) and play again on Monday at home versus Glacier Peak at 7:30 p.m.
— By Quint Turner