Apollo scored a goal in the final 10 seconds, but it wasn’t enough as Owensboro claimed a 2-1 road victory Tuesday on opening night of 9th District boys’ soccer.
Neither team was able to get much of an edge all night, with frequent possession changes and a fast pace from the opening kick. The Red Devils (1-1, 1-0 9th District) finally broke through late in the first half and added another goal in the second, and the Eagles (0-2, 0-1) ran out of time for a full comeback.
Owensboro head coach Ryan Haley said defense, led by center midfielder Kevin Payne, was key in the win.
“The defense today played more organized than they did in past games,” Haley said. “Our midfield, I feel like we’re dangerous at all times. Kevin had a huge game. He worked consistently. He was on every single attack. He was there to stop it.”
For a full photo gallery from the game, click here.
Apollo was first to threaten, using wide attacks to create a few opportunities — one shot smashed the right post while another bounced off the crossbar — but couldn’t connect.
Owensboro’s first score barely snuck in, as a shot by Grayson McFarland from the right side was deflected just enough to make the ball spin toward the goal. Apollo goalkeeper Matt Marks punched it out after a bounce, but the ball had just crossed the goal line.
The Red Devils doubled their lead on a goal by Hser Thaw, who drove one in from the middle of the box on a pass by Andrew Saltsman.
Apollo finally responded with 7.8 seconds to play when Jacob Gillim scored from a few yards out on a cross by Wah Htoo.
Eagles’ head coach Ryan Poirier said the first OHS goal was unfortunate and derailed some of their momentum.
“We got a little deflated,” he said. “But we responded and played well. It was nice to get that goal there at the end, it just came a little bit too late. I told the kids that without that little error — something that’s easy to fix — it’s a 1-1 game and we’re still playing.”
Haley was glad to pick up the win, especially in district play, but said there’s still plenty of room to improve.
“We’re still trying to find our natural tempo,” he said. “Right now we’re still hitting the fast forward button. We need to slow it down and play our game. They worked hard and they fought so I am proud of that, but we’re still a long way off from where we want to be. As the season progresses, we’re going to iron it out and continue to get better.”
Apollo has lost both games by a single goal so far this year, but Poirier said he’s overall been happy with the effort.
“I like the fact that we’re playing with high level teams and we’re competing,” he said. “We look like we should be on the same field. We deserve to be out here. Either game could have easily gone our way, so there’s not too much to be upset about.”
Apollo plays their first road game Saturday in a 7 p.m. contest at Meade County. Owensboro is off until Monday, when they travel to Bowling Green for a 7:30 p.m. game.