Castleton, NY — The Maple Hill boys varsity soccer team found themselves in uncharted waters during a Class C Sectional preliminary round match with the number 16 seeded Mekeel Christian Academy Lions.
When the horn sounded for the final time Maple Hill had survived, but it wasn’t exactly pretty.
The Wildcats, who entered Thursday’s slugfest as the top seed in Class C and the second-ranked team in the state, were scored upon first for only the third time all season. It happened when MCA’s Oscar Lteji put one into the back of the net 11 minutes and 59 seconds into the game.
Less than two minutes later, Garrett Axtmann avenged the defeat, tying things at one, but the “red tornado” wasn’t done saving the day for Maple Hill.
With 13 minutes and 35 seconds remaining in the first half, Marcos Garcia scored to put the Lions on top again, two-one.
Again prompted by the potential end to his senior season, Axtmann struck again, evening things at two before the half was closed.
Given the tie, Maple Hill head coach Dan Gillespie wasn’t thrilled, “we had some opportunities that we missed and defensively we weren’t strong.”
Axtmann, who leads the Section in goals scored this season, would put one more in with over 23 minutes gone by in the final half of play, pushing Maple Hill to their three-two victory.
“My teammates, they helped me out and we got it done. We’ve got to survive and advance, which is what we did today,” said a tired and rain-soaked Axtmann after the game.
Axtmann and the top-seeded Wildcats will face their next test at home in the quarterfinals on Saturday when they take on No.8 seeded Mechanicville at 3:00p p.m.