Deerfield-Windsor's Chap Ivey falls to the ground as Heritage players celebrate moments after stunning the Knights in overtime in Friday's GISA Class AAA quarterfinal matchup. (Staff Photo: John Millikan)
ALBANY — Relatively quiet for much of the game, the Deerfield-Windsor crowd turned up its volume in the closing minutes of the second overtime period of Friday’s GISA Class AAA quarterfinal soccer game against Heritage.
The fans sensed something big was about to happen for their Knights — something that would catapult them into the semifinals for the second straight season.
They were right about something special happening, but dead wrong as to which team it would happen to. With 20.3 seconds left, Heritage inched the ball past DWS goalie Grant Wollam, instantly breaking the hearts of the Deerfield players and ending their season in brutal fashion, 1-0.
“Our team gave everything we had,” a visibly emotional Wollam said. “We left it all on the field, and they just beat us at the end.”
Wollam did all he could to prevent the goal, stretching and diving to his left fully extended only to see the ball narrowly escape his reach.
“There was nothing I could do or anything our defenders could do,” the freshman asserted. “They just broke us down and beat us.”
Wollam finished with eight saves, including a remarkable rescue with only two defenders back with just under 28 minutes in regulation.
But where the defense shined, the offense was kept in the dark. Despite a myriad of scoring opportunities, significantly greater possession time and a speed advantage, Deerfield simply could not capitalize.
“That’s the game of soccer; you dominate and dominate the game, but if don’t take your opportunities you won’t win games,” head coach Aly Joslin said as he held back tears. “We didn’t take our opportunities and it’s as simple as that. I asked them to give it all they’ve got, and they gave it all they had. It just wasn’t enough.”
The Knights had more than 26 shots with sophomore forward Lanier Freeman getting the brunt of them. Several times the players were in direct scoring range but came away with nothing thanks to a stout backline of defense from Heritage.
Notwithstanding Deerfield’s hearty effort, the team failed to reach the semifinals like it did last year where it was eventually eliminated.
“This was a really big game, probably the biggest one I have played in my life,” Wollam said. “The best players play best under pressure, and our team played best (Friday), but they just beat us.”
Joslin summed up the team’s sentiment saying, “We gave it our all and came out on the wrong side of the match.”