Sometimes it all comes down to intuition.
With the Eagles' back against the wall and time winding down in a 0-0 game, Conneaut head boys soccer coach Alan Wise decided to move junior midfielder Tyler Bone to the striker position.
Moments later, Bone took a pass from Mark McLean and dribbled down field with one player to beat. Then with just 25 seconds left in regulation, Bone got off a shot that slipped past an outstretched Ross Ferguson in goal to give the Eagles a thrilling 1-0 win over Saegertown in non-region action.
Conneaut improved to 2-0-1 on the year with its third shutout. The loss was the first of the season for the Panthers, who fell to 4-1.
“We weren’t doing a lot of things well, but enough to keep us in the game,” Wise said. “So I made a last minute decision there — not that I’m some genius — to take Tyler Bone and move him up to striker.
“Mark McLean crossed over a nice ball and Tyler beat the goalie. That’s all it came down to. If the goalie was there one split second earlier, we’re going into overtime and who knows what happens.”
Bone’s goal saved what was otherwise a game dominated by the Panthers. In the first half, Saegertown was in control as Matt Schenberg, Jesse Bates and Peter Mattocks took turns pelting Conneaut goalkeeper Nick Stockton with shot after shot after shot. Unfortunately for the Panthers, those shots either sailed high or wide, wound up right in the hands of Stockton or were negated by penalty.
In fact, one of the Panthers’ best scoring opportunities came at the 22-minute mark of the first half when Schenberg found an open Mattocks coming down the left sideline. Mattocks took the pass and booted it into the net untouched, but the Panthers were whistled for offsides on the play.
“It was pretty high pressure in the first half,” Stockton said. “Our team is better than it was last year, but we have been consistently not playing well in the first half.”
Saegertown kept the pressure on through the first part of the second half. It was a shot by Ethan Mona that ricocheted off Saegertown defenseman Greg Bras and sailed just left of the goal with 17 minutes to play that seemed to light a fire under the Eagles. And it ended with a bang.
“I knew I was going to make it all the way,” Bone said, “because (Ferguson) didn’t come out fast enough. I knew I had him beat.”
Lucky No. 7.
“They outshot us 14-7,” Wise said. “But lucky 7. ... We put the seventh one in. I’m proud of the boys. I’m glad they persevered and realized that even with not playing a good game (Monday) that if you hang in there good things can happen.”