ALBANY -- The host Westover boys soccer team simply ran out of time in Wednesday's GHSA Class AAA State Tournament second-round game.
The Patriots trailed by two to Veterans High School late in the second half before Sagar Patel scored to pull his team to within one. But that was as close as No. 2 seed Westover would get, as fourth-seeded Veterans escaped several game-tying shot attempts to advance to the Class AAA Elite Eight with a 3-2 victory.
"It got really emotional (late in the game)," said Westover senior Danny Brown, who couldn't quite convert on several shots on goal to tie the game. "We just wanted to win. We wanted to fight back."
Brown, The Herald's reigning Player of the Year who finished his career at Westover with an eye-popping 96 goals, got the Patriots on the board first. Ten minutes into the game, a shot by Brown cascaded off of the head of Veterans' D.J. Garrett and found the back of the net.
Westover kept that 1-0 lead for the rest of the half and went into halftime with momentum. However, Patriots coach Van Pressley implored his team at the break to push even harder.
"The message is always the same when you are in the lead at halftime; the game isn't over," Pressley said in his post-game interview. "We needed to step to the ball quicker; we were getting beat on the 50-50 balls, and we needed to hustle more."
In the second half, all of that -- and more -- caught up with the Patriots when Veterans scored three straight goals to take a 3-1 lead.
The game then got a little ugly as Westover (13-4-2) tried to mount its comeback. Midway through the second half, Brown picked up a yellow card for having words with the official. After Patel's goal that pulled the Patriots to within one, Westover's Corey Walter received a red card and was thrown out of the game for a hard slide that took out a Veterans player.
The red card was one of several close calls that went against the host team in the final minutes.
"There were some bad calls, but the bad calls didn't lose the game for us," Presley said. "The bottom line is that when you have a questionable call go against you, it destroys your momentum. We were coming back, and we were trying to come back through a bunch of problems."
Veterans, a first-year school, will enter the state quarterfinals Saturday with a modest record of 11-6-2 and will play the winner of SE Whitefield and North Hall.
"For these guys to come together and play like this says something about them, especially being the first year playing together," Veterans coach Matt Roth said. "Going to the Elite Eight is a big deal for us."