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Huskies take down Wolverines in overtime

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RALEIGH — The boys soccer match between NAC 6 conference rivals Heritage and Wakefield went into overtime, but the Huskies came out on top after a goal in the first period of extra time to beat the Wolverines 2-1 on the road Thursday Oct. 10. It was a tight, defensive game all night. Neither team allowed easy goals scored against them. Heritage head coach Scott Sloan said it came down to the players finding the determination within themselves to come out with the victory. “We’re at that part of the season where it’s a little bit gritty right now,” Sloan said. “You’re going to have games like this. It’s part of the process. You have to find a way to motivate yourself. We have to figure out how to adjust. I’m proud of the guys. It was an ugly win, but still a win, so we’ll take it.” Wakefield scored the first goal of the match 11 minutes into the contest. Vivek Bhat took a long shot from outside the penalty box and the Heritage goalkeeper Ashton Ferrante didn’t even have a chance to react as the ball hit the side of the net to make it 1-0. With 17 and a half minutes left in the first half, Heritage responded with a goal from David Ortiz off an assist from Landon Sloan. That tied the match at 1-1. Neither team scored in the second half, which took the game into overtime. “I did not think tonight was our best night in terms of energy and Wakefield had a lot to do with that,” Sloan said. “They suffocated us defensively. They made it difficult for us to get anything going forward.” With less than three minutes left in the first overtime period, Colin Cook dribbled the ball down the field for the Huskies and crossed it to the middle of the penalty box. Pablo Rodriguez received the short pass and chipped the ball over the Wakefield goalkeeper for what ended up being the game-winning goal. “Colin just made a good run,” Rodriguez said. “He got lucky when the ball hit the defender and he got it back. He just gave me a good ball in the middle and it was an easy finish for me.”

Sloan gave more credit to Cook for the game-winning goal. He said his effort was the difference maker at Wakefield. “Colin Cook worked hard to get the ball in,” Sloan said. “That was a hustle play from Colin. He outran two defenders to put himself in the right spot. It was a good cross and Pablo finished it nicely.” Heritage shut out Wakefield in the second overtime period to hold onto the 2-1 victory. It was a much different result than the last time the two teams played. Heritage overwhelmed Wakefield 5-1 at their place back on Sept. 23. This time, it took overtime to decide the pivotal conference match and complete the season sweep for the seventh year in a row. Wakefield hasn’t beaten Heritage since 2012. “Tonight was a great game for us,” Rodriguez said. “We just had to keep helping each other and push each other.” With the loss, Wakefield dropped to 5-12-2 overall and 3-4 in NAC 6 conference play. The Wolverines have lost seven out of their last 10 matches this season. With the win, Heritage improved to 12-4-3 overall and 6-1 in NAC 6 conference play. The win at Wakefield keeps their conference championship hopes alive. The Huskies have three games left on their regular season schedule, with their final match being against Wake Forest at home Oct. 21 at 6 p.m. in a game that could decide the conference champion. “It’s been about the process since Aug. 1,” Sloan said. “We have quality on our roster. We have guys who can compete with the best teams in the state. There’s always room for improvement. We have to keep our eye on the ball and not look too far ahead.” Wakefield will play Knightdale at home in the final game of the regular season Monday Oct. 21 at 6 p.m. Heritage will prepare for their critical rematch with Wake Forest the same date and time. “This game shows that when it counts, we can keep going,” Rodriguez said. “We kept pushing until we got a goal. We have to continue doing that as a team.”