Patriot Escape: Late goal lifts Albemarle boys soccer past Western

Photo by Ashley Thornton

Roshan George scored off a header on a free kick in the 77th minute, breaking a late tie, and Albemarle escaped with a 3-2 win over archrival Western Albemarle Monday night.


After the game looked destined to end in a draw, Albemarle’s Ethan Tribastone sent a free kick about 45 yards into the box, and George’s head raised the highest as he sent it bouncing into the middle of the net, sending his teammates and the home crowd into a frenzy. The Patriots then held off a furious Western attack in the final minute to preserve the win.


“The ball came in low, and I was in the right place at the right time,” George said. “I just tapped it in. We get motivated when our heads are low, we grind it out, win the 50/50s, and that’s how this game was decided.”


Many of the game’s early chances belonged to Albemarle, the best one being a 10th-minute feed from Tribastone to Daniel Starr, whose header went clanging off the crossbar. The Warriors finally drew first blood in the 37th minute when Joey Paulson cleaned up a flurry in the box following a bullet of a corner from Gabe Nafziger. Western outshot Albemarle 5-2 in the first half.


It didn’t take long for the Patriots to equalize after the break. After a through-ball missed its initial target, Starr got just enough of it following a long run and tapped it into the net for a 1-1 tie.


In the 56th minute, AHS forged ahead in spectacular fashion. Roshan George found Starr on the right side, who then crossed it to Mohammed Abakar. Abakar, who slightly overran the cross, still managed to direct the ball into the net with his hip and the Patriots led 2-1.


“We have a lot of guys who are really talented, and sometimes it just takes longer to put our game plan in and get it going, ” Albemarle coach Zach Laird said. “But once we get our feet under us and get moving, we feel like there’s no stopping us.”


It didn’t last long. Four minutes later, Wilson Brown launched a bomb from 50 yards out which somehow went over the outstretched arm of Patriots keeper Thomas Leckrone and found the back of the net to knot the game once again at 2-2. The goal breathed life into a Western attack that had largely been held in check after halftime.


Western then very nearly broke the stalemate in the 80th minute. Paulson got off a good shot from the left side of the box, but Leckrone got just enough to punch it out. Casey Williamson, however, was right there for the rebound, but his header spun just wide of the net.


Unlike many of Albemarle’s games this season, the opposition had most of the chances. Western outshot Albemarle 10-5.


“We had faith in our guys up front,” Laird said. “Whether we look bad or good, we’re going to finish when we get our chances.”