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Notre Dame soccer team earns share of third
FENTON, Mo. -- With 1 minute, 34 seconds left on the clock and his team trailing 2-1 in the Class 2 third-place game, Jake Pewitt had time for one last dramatic goal.
The senior had helped send his team to the state final four at the Anheuser-Busch Center by scoring a goal with less than five minutes remaining in the Bulldogs' quarterfinal win.
On Saturday, his goal with 1:34 left in regulation drew Notre Dame even at 2-2 and led to the Bulldogs securing a tie for third.
The ball was sent into Notre Dame's offensive end with just a few ticks under two minutes left in the game. Pewitt unexpectedly found the ball in this strike zone a short time later.
"It just bounced off a defender and I just wanted to put it on goal," Pewitt said, saying he struck the ball with his shin. "It just hit off the post and then off the keeper. I was just lucky for it to go in."
Notre Dame coach Brad Wittenborn had a clear view of the shot from his station on the sidelines.
"Jake tried to get it up over the goalie and I saw it hit the crossbar, come down and hit the goalie in the back of the head and go in," Wittenborn said.
"That just is tremendous skill to hit that crossbar just right to get it to do that," he deadpanned before finally allowing a small smile to show.
Good fortune also played a role in the Bulldogs' other goal Saturday when sophomore Jonathan Lynch scored to give Notre Dame a 1-0 lead with 16:16 to go in the first half.
"Joe [Froemsdorf] played a great ball through and then I came in, and when the keeper came out, I tried to chip up over the top," Lynch said. "I think it hit off his hands and then may have deflected and went in. I was trying to see it too because people were kind of in the way. I think it got chipped in and then it may have got deflected."
Pewitt, who said he was about five feet away from Lynch in the mob of people in front of the net, got a better look at what happened.
"Jon had the initial shot, but about 3 seconds later the defender tried to clear it and it bounced off his own guy and went in," Pewitt said.
Helias, the team that beat Notre Dame on penalty kicks in last year's state semifinal, began to generate scoring opportunities of its own as the half progressed.
"In the first half, I thought we came out well in the first 15, 20 minutes," Froemsdorf said. "We were dominating the play and then we started sitting back, not getting numbers up and that's when they started getting all of their opportunities."
During one sequence, the Crusaders' Will Grefrath sent a shot in from beyond the box in the middle of the field that Notre Dame keeper James Holloway was able to deflect out of bounds. Helias hit the crossbar with a shot off the resulting corner and got one more shot off before Holloway was able to work his way through the crowd to collapse on top of the ball.
Another Crusaders shot hit the right goal post before scooting out of bounds later in the half.
Helias finally found offensive success early in the second half when Michael Schulte scored with less than a minute off the clock.
The score remained tied at 1-1 until Notre Dame's Ryan Long found himself all alone in front of the goal with a Helias player and the ball.
"Their strikers were very active, they were very active finding the open space and we kind of got out of position," Wittenborn said. "We moved a lot of guys up on a set piece and the ball played in was a little short and they turned it into a counterattack.
"We probably misread the play and we didn't get rotated where we needed to and so [Long] had to come from a long way to try and make a play and that's probably about the best option he had was to try to slide tackle there."
Long was whistled for a foul on the tackle and the Crusaders were awarded a penalty kick, which Schulte converted to give Helias the lead with 11:27 remaining.
Pewitt later erased that lead.
"There's a lot of fight in this group," Wittenborn said. "We were down in the district games, we were down in the quarterfinal game and we found a way to come back and win, and so it's pretty neat."
With the exception of injured James Diveley, each Notre Dame player contributed to the team's third-place finish, meaning some people were asked to play out of position during the course of the game so that their teammates could get on the field.
"Unless I messed up, every player on our team played," Wittenborn said. "When you do that, and that was important to me in a third-place game to make sure every kid got in, that gets us a little bit out of position even more.
"That's a decision that a head coach has to make as to are you going to just stick with your starters and try to insure the win or are you going to try to make sure that you have a positive experience for everybody on the team, and I always go that way."