By Luke Stone ’20
The clock ticked to 89:33 as Jack Sloan ’20 broke his season-long tendency. He always went left on penalties. This time he didn’t.
And St. Chris goalkeeper Robert Walmsley saw it coming, diving to his left and saving the goal and what looked like the win for the Saints.
With playoff positioning on the line, the No. 10 Woodberry Forest Tigers took on their arch-rival No. 2 St. Christopher’s Saints, who toted two of the Prep League’s best players, including striker Gerard Broussard.
It didn’t take the senior boasting a Prep-League high 27 goals long to find his 28th of the season. On a play where goalkeeper Zack Woods ’20 was helpless, Broussard found the back of the net and sent the soccer juggernaut out to a 1-0 lead.
Although the Saints heavily controlled possession, the Tigers weren’t absent all opportunities. In the 43rd minute, Sloan tried to send a worm-burner to the far post, but Walmsley came darting across his line, dove, and made the much-needed stop.
The Saints dominated possession for much of the second half, too. The Tigers didn’t have much of a look at goal. In the defensive end, though, Woods played one of the games of his life. Daniel Oukolov ’20 locked down Broussard on several occasions, and Tommy Handelsman ’21, Ben Mills ’21, and Ben Antonio ’21 all stepped up to stop the Saints potent attack.
The Tigers only legitimate opportunity of the second half came on the missed penalty. 1 year after a 1-0 victory turned into a 1-1 draw to another bitter rival, EHS, on a last gasp penalty, it looked as if the Tigers had failed to inflict the same fate on their Richmond Rivals.
“And the Tigers faithful? Well, their breath has been sucked out of them,” play-by-play commentator Greg Jacobs remarked after the save.
But the Tigers weren’t done. An injury to Broussard earlier in the half gave the Tigers three or four minutes of added time to find the equalizer. For the first two, it didn’t look like they would.
But then, a long ball came to Woods on a desperation clear from the Saints. Woods punted the ball just over the halfway line, where Handelsman took over. Despite the full 92 minutes weighing on his legs, Handelsman went into overdrive, blowing by several St. Chris defenders before he got down on the right flank outside the penalty area.
He threaded the ball through four Saints defenders, putting it just past a sprawling Walmsley. On the other end stood Jack Sloan, the Wilmington, NC native who calmly passed it into the back of the net and leveled the match for the Tigers.
All 11 players on the pitch immediately went over to celebrate with the hundred or so Woodberry boys who had stayed through it all.
The Tigers would hold on for the final few moments despite a couple of scary Saint attacks to secure a 1-1 draw. The Tigers next match is against an opponent to be determined on Sunday by the VISAA State Playoff Committee, headed by North Cross Coach James Brown. If it’s any help, the Tigers defeated North Cross 5-0.