Hickory Ridge entered this evenings soccer match vs. the Cox Mill Chargers solidly entrenched in 4th place in the SPC. The 3 teams ahead of the Bulls in the conference standings were, in order, Robinson, Concord, and Cox Mill. To say the Bulls needed this victory is like saying man needs water, like saying Abbott needs Costello, even like saying Matt Moore needs Steve Smith. It's just needed. It's understood. And with that, your Hickory Ridge Ragin Bulls pulled out one of the most scintillating, come from behind victories seen on the soccer pitch in quite some time. The Bulls drew first blood 4 minutes into the match when Sr. Matt Abbott slotted a pass between the two central Chargers defenders to Adrian Ike who found the goal to put the Bulls up 1-0. From there is was back and forth with neither team getting really great chances to score. However, with 12 minutes to go in the first half the Chargers found the equalizer as they slipped a shot past Drew Andreotti as he came out of the goal to challenge the shot. The final 12 minutes saw a flurry of chances for both sides just missing the go ahead score leading into half.
The second half was more of the same as the last 12 minutes of the first half. Each team took turns probing the other sides defense, challenging the respective keepers, and keeping the spectators on the edge of their seats. As the sun set and the sky glowed pink, the Bulls finally caught a break with the referee calling a foul just outside the box. Brandon Castillo took the free kick, curved it around the wall and into the side netting to put HR up 2-1 with exactly 6 minutes to go in the contest. As the clocked ticked down and the sun sunk lower into the horizern, it was looking more and more like a Bulls victory in regulation. Unfortunately, with about a minute remaining in regualation, the Chargers tied it at 2-2. Not to be defeated, the Bulls took the next kickoff and attacked swiftly with a cross by Abbott thwarted by just the slightest of touches by a Cox Mill defender just as Sr. Christ Faber was about to put in the game winner with seconds left on the clock. But as it was, the ball deflected low and Faber could only put his foot on the top of the ball instead of the side and regulation ended in a frustrating fashion for the Bulls.
OT started no better. In conference soccer play, there are 2 10 minute overtime periods and the final score at the end of that extra 20 minutes stands. With about 3 minutes left in the 1st period of overtime, the Chargers scored to go up 3-2. It was very deflating to both the crowd and the team. However, the experineced Bulls knew the game was not over and renewed their assault on the Chargers goal. Less than a minute later, Jr. Adrian Ike got fouled in the box and was awarded a penalty kick. Coach Wolfe immediately, and without hesitation, pointed to Adrian to take the kick. And he did. And he .... watched his line drive get stopped by the Charger keeper on an excellent diving save... except it crossed the end line!!!! GOAAAALLLLLLLLLL Hickory Ridge!!! Tied 3-3 going into the 2nd and final period of overtime. Whew. With yellow cards flying, tensions rising even more than they were, with both teams struggling to find the energy, the 2nd overtime period started with the Chargers in control of the kickoff. Again, both teams took turns challenging the other teams keeper until, with just under 7 minutes remaining in the second overtime, Chris Faber sent a cross from the right wing into the box where an onrushing Brandon Castillo deftly deflected into the left side netting for the go ahead, and eventual game winning, score. Bulls Win 4-3 and take at least a share of 3rd place in the conference, if not 2nd depending on the outcome of the Concord-Robinson game being contested at the same time. What a game. What a comeback. And without question, some of the best soccer displayed by the Bulls this season. Keep it up men, keep it up.