ST. PAULS — There was no question on Monday that the St. Pauls and Red Springs soccer teams played it close.
So close that the area soccer rivals couldn’t figure out a proper winner.
“There were a couple of goals that went right by,” said St. Pauls coach Brent Martin. “There was a header they had down there that was close and we were within a few seconds of having this one.”
After 100 minutes of shots that missed by inches, miracle saves and hard collisions, the Bulldogs and Red Devils left their first meeting with a 1-1 draw after two overtimes.
In front of small crowd that was on its feet and cheering with every ball late in the game, the two teams played as closely as possible, with possession split about even and Red Springs edging out St. Pauls 9-8 in shots on goal.
St. Pauls had possession for the first five minutes, but spent the rest of the first half defending an offense led by Raul Dominguez.
The Red Devils used a flurry of shots, but had them either miss the net or stopped by Dennis Verdugo.
Verdugo and Red Springs goalie Lionel Rodriguez each fended off whatever was put at them, despite aggressive play that led to accidential crashes with opposing strikers.
After a scoreless first half that Red Springs led with five shots on goal to St. Pauls’ one, the tide flipped for the second. The Bulldogs came out in a different formation and instead played as the aggressor behind striker Erik Perez.
Perez had more than seven open looks at the net, but either put them straight at the goalie or missed the net entirely.
St. Pauls broke the tie in the final five minutes of regulation when Hugo Calderon headed in a pass from Isaiah Reyes. The header went low and ricocheted between the goalie’s hands and the right post before going in.
The Red Devils tied it less than a minute later when Dominguez drew a foul and knocked in the ensuing penalty kick.
Red Springs had the only shot on goal of the overtime period when Oscar Mendoza put a kick right at Verdugo.
In the second overtime period, St. Pauls had three looks on give-and-go plays that missed the net.