In a worthy installment to the heated rivalry, the Conard High and Hall High boys soccer teams played to a scoreless double-overtime draw at McKee Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.
And while Conard (5-2-1) had the two-time All State striker in Matheus Souza, it was Chieftains goalie Bryan Baker who was the best player on the field on Tuesday.
Indeed, Baker made no fewer than three terrific saves, two of which were after a Hall player had been sent through with no other Conard defender to beat.
"Bryan Baker for both teams was the player of the game,” Conard head coach Adam Linker said. “That was one of the best performances of an individual player on my team this year.”
Linker said that Baker was responsible for preventing four goals on his own.
The first huge save came in the 15th minute, when Baker dove to his right to stop a shot in the box off a corner.
In the 27th minute, Hall’s Reid Silverhart broke through, but Baker charged out off his mark to make a low save at Sliverhart’s feet.
Later, in the 45th minute, Hall’s Josh Weisenberg was frustrated when he gained possession and stared at an open goal after Baker made an initial save. But Conard defender Nelson Truong effectively tracked back and knocked the ball away.
Silverhart was given another opportunity at a clean break in the 74th minute, but was similarly denied by a stout Baker.
“Bryan was just unreal,” Linker said.
One more Hall effort in the second overtime hit the woodwork.
Hall High head coach Zeke Segura said that, in terms of scoring, it was a frustrating afternoon that was indicative of the season.
“We’re just not finishing on some of our chances,” he said. “We had three or four breakaways. Their goalkeeper played outstanding.”
Hall, for its part, played better than its 1-5-1 record coming into the match, with defenders stifling the creative and lethal Sousa all afternoon.
“Whenever we play these games, throw out the records; it just doesn’t matter,” Conard head coach Adam Linker said. “It’s always a battle.”
Souza's best opportunity came in the 37th minute, when he skipped down the left wing, cut back in the box to the right, beat three defenders marking him and launched a shot that caught the inside of the right post and caromed back into play.
Souza had several other half opportunities, but nothing really came of them.
“He was closely marked; every time he got the ball, there were two or three guys on him,” Linker said. “He did well trying to keep possession.”
Segura said that he had a plan to ensure that Souza was marked by one player, with another slipping behind to ensure that the Conard forward never got a clear look on goal.
When Conard did manage to slip a shot past Hall’s defenders, goalkeeper Zachary Smith (11 saves) was there to end the threat.
And while the game ended in a draw, both coaches spoke highly of their players.
“I am proud of their efforts,” Linker said. “The guys worked hard. Hall played well, we played well and it ended up in a draw.”
Seguro was equally proud of his team’s performance.“We’ve had a season full of injuries,” he said. “We’re not a veteran team. We’re young. … I give these kids a lot of credit. They haven’t given up. We’ve been in every single match. Unfortunately, our record is not indicative of that.”