Model boys’ soccer coach Donnie Mendence hugged each of his players after Friday’s game against Armuchee. After 80 minutes of back and forth action, the coach needed some way to express his joy.
The Blue Devils persevered and rallied down the stretch for a 3-1 win against the Indians in a Region 7-AA battle in Armuchee.
It was another critical win for Mendence’s crew as it played to a 0-0 tie after the first half.
“We settled in, and I just kept telling our guys to just keep working for it, don’t get frustrated,” Mendence said. “If we can just get one, if we can break the seal, we can possibly get multiple goals after that.”
The game was a scoreless tie for nearly the first 60 minutes of play until Model’s Matthew Syverson scored on a penalty kick with 20:18 left. Logan Burdette and Jason Ortega followed up with goals to extend the Blue Devils’ lead, while goalkeeper Leonel Bello posted seven saves.
Armuchee (5-4, 3-2 7-AA) broke the shutout bid with a penalty kick goal from Christopher Castro with 26 seconds left, but the Blue Devils stood tall most of the match.
Model (6-2, 5-1) was a bit shaky to start, but both teams settled into a tight match where both midfielders battled for possession. Each team had plenty of chances in the first half, but they were all ultimately stopped from the opposing back line.
When Syverson drew his penalty kick and broke the tie, the game began to open up as Armuchee increased its attack. But it was Model that found more ways to hurt the Indians in those final 20 minutes.
“Once we got that first goal, we were able to not stress so much,” Mendance said. “The defense was able to relax and clear the ball away. We didn’t have to force the ball up as much and risk being countered.”
Model hosts LaFayette on Tuesday, while Armuchee will play Gordon Central in Calhoun.