The Bulldogs and Tigers traded punches on Tuesday evening at Chris Hotop Field. Unfortunately for Mexico, Kirksville landed the final blow then dodged a counter strike just before the buzzer, handing …
The Bulldogs and Tigers traded punches on Tuesday evening at Chris Hotop Field. Unfortunately for Mexico, Kirksville landed the final blow then dodged a counter strike just before the buzzer, handing the Bulldogs a narrow 4-3 loss.
"It's the game," said Mexico forward Haden Frazier. "You make some, you miss some."
Frazier's last minute charge almost sent the game into overtime. The Bulldogs had been pressuring Kirksville throughout a stirring second half.
With 2:23 to go in the game Kirksville's Gavin Pike managed to drive a shot past Mexico's sure handed goalkeeper Emille Scanavino to give the Tigers a goal advantage. But the Bulldogs came roaring back.
With less than a minute on the clock, midfielder Dominic McKeown played the ball into dangerous space. Frazier raced for it and under heavy pressure directed a sharp blast to the left half of the net.
Kirksville keeper Ethan Austic stretched and deflected the ball away for a corner.
"That was a great defensive play," Frazier noted. "Dom passed it to the right spot."
The Tigers had opened the back and forth battle with a goal from the spot in the 36th minute of the first half. Frazier responded almost immediately, skipping one under the keeper.
A few minutes later, Frazier drilled a shot home from the right side of the box to give Mexico a temporary 2-1 lead.
It looked as if the score might hold through the half. Evan Heaton's spirited one on one tackle broke up a Tigers attack and Scanavino made a diving save.
But Kirksville's Pike broke through finally to even things at 2-2.
Throughout the second half it appeared as if Mexico might wrest control of the back and forth battle. Seven minutes in, Brendan McKeown and Gage Walker executed a training ground exchange neatly, but the shot swerved wide.
Austic sprawled to block a Frazier delivery. Moments later Frazier lobbed a promising cross into the box, but before Walker could bring it under control, Kirksville's defense converged.
But it was the Tigers who struck. Pike corralled a convenient errant ball and scored to make it 3-2 for Kirksville.
"We need to get better at hustling back," observed Bulldogs defender Scout Jones.
Mexico's high line worked, frequently catching the Tigers in an offside position. On this occasion, however, it left Pike alone against the goalkeeper.
The Bulldogs would come back, however. With 12:38 to go, Dominic McKeown ripped a shot into the back of the net from 12 yards out to set up the dramatic conclusion.