Even at home they needed extra minutes, but the Northland Prep Spartans boys soccer team outlasted the Page Sand Devils for a 2-1 victory Tuesday at Sinagua Middle School.
Jadon Stuart scored the go-ahead goal eight minutes into the first set of extra time, Connor Barta was solid with the goalkeeper jersey on and the Spartans snapped a three-match losing streak and completed the regular-season sweep of the Sand Devils, notching the win despite being down two starters.
"A lot of hard work. We remind them every day it's all about hard work and heart," Spartans head coach Erik Carrillo said.
After 12th-ranked Page defended a corner kick toward the end of the first 10 minutes of overtime, No. 13 Northland Prep put itself in position to try to capitalize off another just seconds later, and Stuart found the hole this time. Battling in a scramble in front of the Page goal after the corner kick, Stuart sent the ball to the back of the net for a 2-1 lead the Spartans would not relinquish en route to taking the match between the Central Region squads.
Page saw a late header attack fly just above the crossbar late in the second set of overtime, proving the Spartans and their fans a sigh of relief. Stuart nearly put another shot in from far out on a free kick in the second overtime, but Page's goalkeeper reached high enough to deflect the shot with a one-handed play.
Kenzy Rolley scored in the first half of regulation for the Spartans, who, along with the Sand Devils, missed opportunities in the second half as both defenses played soundly.
"Defense, our biggest thing was not to poke at the ball," Carrillo said. "Hold them in front of you, take the shot, take the hit. Up top, I told them to take shots. You can't win if you don't take shots."
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Rolley scored off his own dribble, only to see Page get the equalizer a few minutes later.
Page (3-4, 2-2 Central Region) kept pressure on in the second half of regulation, with Barta making a key stop with 33:52 on the clock. Northland Prep (3-5, 1-1) fended off a few close calls on corner kicks about two minutes after, barely clearing the ball on both tries.
Jason Wilkie's free kick from about 30 yards out couldn't penetrate the Page wall of defenders, as both teams struggled to generate offense in the scoreless second half.
Northland Prep had some help late courtesy of Page defenders making mistakes.
Unable to play to the situation, a Page defender decided to try to make a play deep in Spartans territory instead of letting the ball go out for a secured possession and a throw-in. The defender's play ended up going out of bounds and the Spartans used the chance to ease the threat with just a minute to play in regulation.
Northland Prep takes on fellow 2A Conference opponent Round Valley on the road Thursday hoping to avoid a season sweep to the Elks.