By Jay Leon Guerrero
Game of the season. The Harvest Eagles and the St. John’s Knights battled until the closing minutes with the Knights getting a goal from Matt Hodgins in the 79th-minute to win 4-3 in a IIAAG Boys Soccer League semifinal matchup between two powerhouse teams.
The rematch is set. The Eagles and the FD Friars will battle it out once again for the championship after the Friars defeated the ND Royals 3-1.
Knights strike first
After not scoring against the Eagles in their first two contests, the Knights scored in the opening minutes of the game. Gaius Dulay from St. John’s scored with just three minutes into regulation to go ahead 1-0.
Dulay had a straight shot and angled his shot around Harvest goalie Traven Kaae for the score.
The Eagles started off shaky but quickly rebounded and scored in the 20th minute with a goal from Jack Tran.
Levi Buckwalter followed up with two goals before halftime, giving the Eagles a comfortable lead by the break. Buckwalter’s goals came in the 23rd minute and 32nd minute to give the Eagles a 3-1 lead at halftime.
The Knights did not go down without a fight. The third seed showed tenacity and grit and came back to tie the game. Freshman Allan Zeng scored in the 63rd minute to start the comeback for the Knights. Zeng’s shot came in traffic from 50 feet out to cut the lead to 3-2.
The Knights continued to grind and kept their season alive with a score from Eric You. You’s goal came in the 67th minute and the contest was tied 3-3.
A trip to the championship game was on the line and both teams took turns with their attack. The Eagles caught a break with Hodgins finding an opening.
Buckwalter took his shot against Knight goalie Miles Ganeb but the shot came off the right side of his foot. The shot turned into a pass with Hodgins (on the right side of the goal) in the right place at the right time.
“I was nervous about the outcome of the game. I don’t even remember how I scored but it was a crazy ending.”Eagles Matt Hodgins on his game-winning goal
“I took a pass from the left winger and it wasn’t the best footer. It came off the right side of my foot and went to Matt (Hodgins),” said Buckwalter. Hodgins went with his instinct and took a shot that found the back of the net.
“After they tied the game, we knew we were still in it. If they can score two goals in seven minutes we can score as well,” said Buckwalter. “We told ourselves we were tied and not down so we needed to push all the way and not back down. Thankfully, we scored a goal at the end.”
The Eagles now need to reset and focus on the championship game. “We know (FD) have some players out (due to overseas competition) but we also had players out during the regular season as well,” said Buckwalter.
“It’s going to be a good finale. I know they are going to play and want it; but we are going to play and want it more,” said Buckwalter.
“We really want this championship after what happened last season,” said Hodgins.
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