MILLTOWN — When Archmere and Saint Mark’s began their boys soccer game on the afternoon of Nov. 4, it was sunny and pleasant, a picturesque early November day. By the time the teams finished a 1-1 draw nearly two hours later, the sun was all but gone, and the temperature had dropped considerably. In between, the Auks and Spartans put on an entertaining show, 100 minutes of soccer that included a few big saves, a handful of near misses and a pair of goals.
The Spartans controlled the ball early, but their only shot on goal in the first few minutes – coming off a throw-in deep in the Saint Mark’s attacking end — was stopped by Auks goalkeeper Niko Triantafillou. The momentum swung Archmere’s way about 10 minutes in, but Andrew Wenger stopped a sharp-angle attack to keep it scoreless.
The Spartans got on the board in the 25th minute. A steal at midfield turned into a rush upfield, and Nick Carrell sent a ball toward Chase Beck. Beck sidestepped a defender and sent a low roller past a diving Triantafillou to end the stalemate.
Wenger was called on to stop a direct kick in the 29th, and a bit later he won the race to a loose ball heading his way. Triantafillou showed his skills late in the half when he stoned Kieran O’Connor from a short distance with a diving stab.
The teams traded shots and corner kicks early in the second as the pace of play picked up, along with the intensity. A Spartans shot missed just wide to the left, and the Auks chipped a ball toward Wenger off a corner kick, but the one-goal margin remained. Both teams had opportunities on free kicks, but they were unable to put the ball on target.
With time running low, the Auks increased the urgency of their play. The relentless pressure finally paid dividends in the 76th. They earned another corner kick, and this time, Austin Curtis found some daylight in the midst of about 10 players to equalize. It was the second straight game where the Auks scored in the 76th minute; Gavin Fanning’s late goal on Monday gave Archmere at win at Wilmington Charter.
With daylight at a premium, the teams embarked on two 10-minute overtime periods. Archmere had two corner kicks in the first, and the Spartans had theirs in the second. The best opportunity for either team came at the end of the first extra period, when the Spartans drilled a shot that just went over the crossbar.
The Spartans had a 10-9 edge in shots, although the Auks had six corner kick opportunities to Saint Mark’s two. Wenger had eight saves. The Spartans (2-1-1) host Delcastle on Saturday at noon.
Triantafillou had nine saves for Archmere, which is now 3-1-1. The Auks alao play Saturday at noon; they are at Conrad.
All photos by Mike Lang.