MILLBURY – The cardiac 'Cats of Northview pulled out another dramatic victory to keep a remarkable run in the Division I boys soccer tournament alive on Wednesday night.
The Wildcats trailed No. 10-ranked Anthony Wayne 1-0 with a little more than 25 minutes left in a regional semifinal match at Lake. But junior Ryan Storey answered with two goals, including the game-winner with just 29 seconds left in regulation. The Wildcats topped the Generals 2-1 to advance to the Elite 8 for the second straight season.
The Generals (15-2-3) looked to be in control of the showdown with their fellow Northern Lakes League member as they outshot Northview 11-9. But Storey had his own story to write.
Storey tallied the equalizer with 25:45 left in the second half. He then finished it after the ball ricocheted off of an AW defender and set him up with a solo breakaway. Storey got in alone and blasted a shot to the lower left corner of the net to end it.
“The ball deflected off of one of their defenders and I was in the perfect spot. I was making a run and I was calling for it. And I knew I had to put it away,” Storey said. “He was leaning one way and I went the opposite way. It's incredible. It's the best feeling ever. I couldn't be more happy for these guys.”
VIDEO: Northview-Anthony Wayne
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Northview (10-4-5) got another stellar performance from junior keeper Ryan Bules, who had 10 saves. The Wildcats advance to play Medina for the regional title on Saturday at a site to be determined.
Northview also won the district title in dramatic fashion on Saturday when Marios Kamilaris tallied the game-winner with 8:48 left in double overtime in a 2-1 triumph over rival Southview. The Wildcats also knocked off No. 5 ranked St. Francis de Sales 1-0 in double OT in the district semifinals.
“We wanted them to feel our determination and will,” Northview coach Mark DelVerne said. “We slowly built and got stronger.”
The victory came nearly a year to the day that the Wildcats had knocked the Generals out of the 2016 playoffs with a 1-0 win in the regional semifinals.
Anthony Wayne senior Johnny Grant scored with 3:10 left in the first half to give the Generals a 1-0 lead. AW looked then like it had scored on a header from Caleb Gibbons with 16:51 left on a set piece off a corner kick, but the pass deflected off the football goal post and the play was whistled dead. The Generals battled back with consistent pressure over the final 10 minutes.
AW coach Brian Billings said his team didn't defend well enough in the second half and did not finish on set pieces.
“You always feel that if you play well, you deserve to win,” Billings said. “We were in a good spot at halftime. But they are a really resilient team and we got rattled in the second half. We got unlucky [on the winner]. But we were in a spot where we had time to do far more.”
AW defeated Northview 4-2 on Sept. 19 and Storey said his team knew it had to be at its best.
“We're just getting lucky, I think,” Storey said. “It's all apart of a championship run. We knew we had to play 80 minutes because they beat us 4-2. We knew we had to be strong and we did just that. We kept our heads high.”
Northview had a solid opportunity with 1:20 left but AW keeper Chris Huffman came out to make the save.
Grant scored in the waning moments of the first half after a scramble in the box. Gibbons had his first shot stopped by Bules, but Grant was there for the rebound. He booted it home for a momentum-building goal just before the half.
But Northview evened it after a direct kick led to a flurry of chances in front of Huffman (seven saves). Alec West had one shot before Storey knocked in the loose ball.
“It was bouncing around and I knew I just had to get something on it,” Storey said.
DelVerne said Storey had a strong start to the season before hitting a dry patch.
“We told him he was in the right spots and to keep his head. We knew he was going to notch it and he got two tonight,” DelVerne said.
The Generals went 7-0-0 to win the NLL title and set a school record for goals scored in a season with 96 and gave up only 21 goals. The Generals, who last reached the state semifinals in 2013, had won its sixth straight district title.
“It's a special group of kids, so were disappointed,” Billings said. “But a lot of teams would like to be in this spot and be here.”
It was dry but cold early with temperatures hovering around 45 degrees before rain moved in late in regulation. The first half featured good flow with crisp passing, good defense, and solid goaltending. AW carried the majority of play before the Wildcats picked up its pressure late.
Northview lost 3-1 to Medina in the regional final last November.
“Our sales pitch all year has been that we want to win money games and this one was money,” DelVerne said. “That's a great team. But we knew we had a chance. Our team has gotten stronger all year and we still have another really good [level] we can go to.”
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