A Look Back at Byram Hills Soccer loss to Greece-Athena in 2014 State Semifinals
A Heartbreaking 2-1 Loss in Overtime
On Saturday morning November 15, the Byram Hills soccer team traveled to Middletown High School to face Greece-Athena in the semifinals of the New York State High School Championship. Eighty minutes of grit and gut check had both teams squared off where they started. Sudden death overtime the forum, an unfriendly bounce could provide glory and misery in an instant. Unfortunately, a tough skip off the turf with 6:36 left in the extra period sunk the hearts of the Bobcats, and all the fans who made the three hour journey with them.
Pinned in on their own end, the ball suddenly popped into the center of the field, and Zach Koons of Greece-Athena lined a one-hopper past Bobcat Goalie Matt Groll. A playable ball, the Bobcat goalie was not able to corral the hop from point blank range.
Whether Groll misplayed the shot or not, the Bobcats would never have seen overtime without the senior goaltender's great play. This especially in the first half of the epic contest. The Greece-Athena Trojans sustaining a much more balanced first half attack, Groll came up big by cutting off a number leading passes. In the mix and extending himself, the net minder showed no fear of going to the grass as play got too close to the crease.
On the other side, the Bobcats were stymied well into the half. Thus, Byram Hills first real chance didn’t come until there were 17 minutes remaining. Ryan Blum made a great cut in the center of the field to elude his defender, and the midfielder led Brandon Drossman down into the corner. But the senior forward’s crossing pass sailed well behind the goal.
Remaining in stride, Bennett Kramer got the Bobcat fans on their feet with a header that Greece-Athena goalie Tyler Graves snuffed with a sliding save to close the half. Even so, Byram Hills did not waste the momentum on the intermission.
Ryan Blum chased down an outlet pass that the Trojans seemed to have in hand and knocked the ball out of bounds off the defense. On the inbound pass, Brandon Drossman was able to footwork his way into a little daylight and rocketed a beeline past Graves with 36:17 remaining in the game.
Up 1-0, Byram Hills was now pressuring the offensive end with lots of pep in their step. However, Greece-Athena didn’t waiver. Zach Mirguet found himself with the ball above the box at 31:40 and in perfect position to bend it. Groll dove to his right, got a hand on the ball, but there was enough rotation to ripple the net and spoil the party.
Undeterred, Byram Hills didn’t back peddle. Bennett Kramer stepped his game up, and the Bobcat student body let him hear it. Anticipating a show stopper every time the ball landed at his feet, the senior forward exhilarated classmates. He danced around several defenders in the left corner and was able to slide a pass through the crease. Unfortunately, the Bobcat right winger couldn’t get there before the ball scampered out of range.
The time clock reaching its limit, Kramer almost made handy work of the Trojans at the outset of OT. He broke free of the defense 25 seconds in, and sent Bobcat fans hearts a sailing. But the kick doing the same over the crossbar – the collective beat sunk just as fast.
The stunner coming eight minutes later – the gasp was clearly discernable in the stands. On the other hand, the shock won’t compare in the long run to how this team made their town flutter with what almost was.
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