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The lightning that flickered in the sky throughout Saturday evening’s men’s soccer match at Barton Outdoor Athletic Complex didn’t put on quite as good of a show as did the Bulldogs and Coker.
The drama that played throughout the evening finally came to a head in the 110th minute, or more specifically with 45 seconds remaining in the second 10-minute overtime period. Barton senior midfielder Javier Alcarria stole the ball near midfield and drove down the left sideline before playing it forward to sophomore forward Ruben Mancio, who was able to chip the ball over the head of oncoming Coker goalkeeper Zach Watson for the decisive goal in Barton’s 2-1 win.
“I was pleased with how our team handled the adversity and challenges that came about through the game,” Barton head coach Ian McMichael said. “We certainly feel that we anted to play better in certain moments and certain areas but the toughness and composure through 110 minutes was tough.”
Mancio’s goal was the final turn in a game that had several twists in front of a sparse crowd for the Bulldogs home opener. It actually was Barton’s first official game since the Bulldogs’ season opener Thursday at Catawba was canceled at halftime due to bad weather. Coker, formerly Barton’s rival in NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas and now a member of the Div. II South Atlantic Conference, dropped to 0-2.
A threat of bad weather persisted throughout Saturday’s match but play was never halted. Barton appeared to be headed for a 1-0 victory but Coker managed to get the equalizer with slightly less than six minutes to play in regulation. Cobras 6-foot-5 senior forward Jacob Simonis landed a header in the net following a long free kick by teammate Joao Silva.
Coker then missed a great chance to take the lead about three minutes later when a header by senior defender Matt Trimby struck the crossbar. Another header by Trimby in the first overtime period was stopped by Bulldogs keeper Francisco Noguera for one of his seven saves.
The Bulldogs were outshot in the match 22-16 with Coker taking 11 in the first half. Both teams were credited with putting eight shots each on goal.
McMichael took the blame for his team’s slow start, saying the implementation of a new formation was the reason.
“We started a new formation and we hadn’t spent a lot of time training in it. We took a few minutes gettting settled into it,” he said.
The Cobras had several good looks at the goal in the opening minutes when they dominated possession. However, it was Barton that struck first.
After a Bulldogs corner kick bounced around in the box, senior midfielder Tolly Beatson corralled the ball and set up for a shot just inside the 18-yard line from the left wing. Beatson’s shot weaved through several players and found the far right of the net for his 28th career goal.
The 1-0 score stood until Simonis’ equalizer despite the Cobras having several good looks, including two shots that hit the post while Noguera came up with three solid stops.
McMichael praised his team’s toughness, on the field and off.
“I felt we were tough mentally and a lot was demanded from us and not just the guys on the field but the guys throughout our roster,” he said.
“We were prepared for such an intense match because of our depth. Just the collectiveness of the intensity from the bench was something to build on.”
The Bulldogs will continue their non conference slate Wednesday when they face University of District of Columbia in a neutral-site match in Richmond, Virginia. Barton will host Belmont Abbey in its Conference Carolinas opener Saturday at 4 p.m.