WILMINGTON — Perhaps it was fitting that the soccer game Oct. 27 between visiting Saint Mark’s and host Wilmington Charter ended on a play that resulted from some physicality. Jake Wolhar knocked in a penalty kick in the eighth minute of overtime, giving the Force a hard-fought 2-1 win over the Spartans.
Both teams entered the game with just one loss apiece, both to Salesianum. The teams served notice that they will be tough outs in their respective state tournaments. Charter plays in Division I, while the Spartans are members of Division II.
The score was 1-0 Charter at the half as the Force had the advantage in possession and chances in the first 40 minutes. That evened out in the second, and both teams had chances to get on the board. The Spartans had corner kicks in the 49th and 50th minutes, although the second resulted in a counter by Charter that led to a shot over the Spartans’ net.
The Force’s defense stole a throw-in pass in the 57th, but a shot went wide. A Spartans defender slid to knock a Charter shot away from the front of the net four minutes later. Spartans goalkeeper Andrew Wenger was busy, coming up with a save on a free kick as the game entered the final 10 minutes of regulation.
The momentum shifted back to Saint Mark’s after that save. A corner kick in the 72nd minute was headed by the Spartans and deflected off a Force player’s head and over the end line, giving Saint Mark’s another corner. This time, the Spartans got a shot on Charter keeper Sean Dougherty, but the rebound bounced out to Chase Beck, and his follow-up went high into the net to tie the score.
Wenger kept it tied with a fantastic save a minute after the equalizer, and both teams had corner kicks before the end of regulation. But this game would go to the golden goal.
The Force had the first real opportunity in the 84th, when Gavin Newcombe dribbled downfield and fed Nick Livaditis, whose shot was stopped by Wenger. A Saint Mark’s free kick led to a shot and a save for Dougherty. Wolhar was advancing on Wenger after that when he was brought down in the 18-yard box, and the referee immediately signaled for the penalty shot.
Wilmington Charter was in control most of the first half, not allowing the Spartans to get set up on offense much at all. Offensively, the Force sent several balls toward Wenger, but the keeper kept them off the board until the 34th minute, when Felix Vega took a through ball from Matt Capretto, and his shot went off Wenger’s hands high into the net.
Charter finished with a 12-5 shot advantage, and Dougherty had three saves. The Force (12-1-1) wrap up the regular season at home next Thursday at 3:30 p.m. against Middletown.
Saint Mark’s had eight corner kicks to three for the Force. Wenger had seven saves. The Spartans fell to 11-2 and will travel to MOT Charter on Friday at 3:45 p.m., weather permitting.
All photos by Mike Lang.