GLOVERSVILLE - Persistence paid off for the South Glens Falls Bulldogs on Wednesday afternoon in their Foothills Council boys soccer match against Gloversville.
Twice, the Bulldogs saw the Dragons rally back from one-goal deficits to tie the match, before Blake Snyder hammered home the game winner with just over seven minutes remaining to give South High a 3-2 victory.
"That was the best of the five games we have played, with no doubt," Gloversville coach Paul Ligon said. "We played a lot of the game in their half and finally strung some passes together in combinations and we were working in the final third. Overall, it was a good team effort, what we have been looking for the last four games finally came together today."
Gloversville’s Skyler Deming (10) is tripped up in the penalty area by South Glens Falls’ Ryan Plude (19) leading to Deming’s game-tying penalty kick. Backing up the play Wednesday at Gloversville High School are Gloversville’s Tom Kirk (15) and South High's Devin Hazewski (11). (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)
The Bulldogs (5-1-1 overall, 3-1-1 Foothills) tallied the first goal of the match when Luke Vandixhorn received a long pass out of his midfield and broke in one-on-one with Gloversville goalkeeper Nick Cirillo and finished the play just under 12 minutes into the match.
The Dragons (0-5-0 overall, 0-4-0 Foothills) immediately went to work to tie the match. Using strong combinations to take the ball deep into the South High defensive third, Gloversville found success, catching Bulldogs' goalkeeper Josh Hay out of position and C.J. DeVito was in position to push the ball into the back of the net, tying the match at one.
Five minutes later, with momentum on its side, the inspired Dragons narrowly hitting a go-ahead goal when Nick Gunderson's diving header was stopped on a diving effort from Hay.
South High took a 2-1 advantage into halftime when Vandixhorn collected a rebound off a shot knocked down by Cirillo and pushed it inside the left post.
Gloversville again came back to challenge the Bulldogs defense with strong runs that were shut down deep in defensive third.
Gloversville's offensive pressure paid off with 17:18 remaining when a pass into the box to Skyler Deming drew a tripping foul and a penalty kick.
Deming blasted the penalty kick behind Hay to pull the Dragons even at two.
Cirillo and Hay stepped up their games, cutting down several opportunities in the box as their respective defenses tightened, not giving the front line attackers unchallenged shots from good angles.
South High found success when Alec Potter drove deep to the right corner before drawing the ball back and putting a shot on goal to the near post that Cirillo dove to save. The ball deflected away from the goal line, but Snyder was in position to win the 50-50 ball and finish the play for a 3-2 advantage.
The South High defense was able to turn back challenges from a Dragons' attack led by Thomas Kirk, Deming and DeVito over the final seven minutes to preserve the victory.
"We were just trying to stay to our style of soccer, trying to be patient, find openings and capitalize on them," South Glens Falls coach Travis Birkholz said. "I think we have some good discipline. We work on that regularly and preaching persistence to find out what works and keep doing it. I thought our shooting was poor tonight and we were weak shooting from a distance."
That was due to an aggressive defensive plan by the Dragons to counter the Bulldogs speed.
"We were trying to play a high-line in the back and use Nick [Cirillo] like an extra sweeper," Ligon said. "We put him on top of the box a little bit more because we knew they were speedy. For the most part the back four did a nice job."
Wednesday's match was the first multiple score game of the season for the Dragons.
"We have been mixing it up and trying to find the right guys in positions. We are close," Ligon said.
Gloversville will take to the pitch for its next match Saturday night against Broadalbin-Perth. The defending Class B state champions come into Saturdays match off back-to-back losses to Scotia-Glenville. Game time is set for 7 p.m.