PORTLAND >> Cheshire regarded Tuesday’s 0-0 tie with Xavier at the Oakwood Soccer Park as a win. Xavier regarded it as a loss.
Those feelings have little to do with the reality that Xavier was favored in the Southern Connecticut Conference match. Instead, they have everything to do with how it ended.
After playing 79 and a half minutes without many scoring opportunities for either team, the Falcons launched a last-ditch effort and put great pressure on the Cheshire goal. With the last few seconds ticking away, Xavier’s Tom Gardner broke free, and fired a shot from almost point-blank range.
Cheshire goalkeeper Matt Skydell had no chance.
But as the ball headed towards the goal, the clock reached 0:00. The ball crossed the goal line and hit the back of the net and the Xavier fans and players erupted in cheers.
But it was not a goal.
“In high school soccer, the ball can’t be in the air, or on the way to the goal,” said Xavier coach Brian Fitzgerald. “It has to cross the goal line before the clock runs out. The refs said it didn’t get there in time. So it’s not a goal and it’s a tie.”
Cheshire was delighted.
“I’m very happy with the result,” said Cheshire coach Artur Branco. “I’ve been on the other side. I can empathize with the Xavier coaches. But that’s high school soccer. I’m very happy with how we played today. We’ve struggled, we have a lot of new players, but today I saw improvement on the field.
“It’s not the kind of soccer we want to play, but we need to be realistic about ourselves. Today we did a good job defending as a team.”
Fitzgerald conceded that Cheshire played good defense, but didn’t let his team off the hook.
“We played well in spurts,” Fitzgerald said. “We should have finished the opportunities we had earlier or we wouldn’t be talking about the last play. It was a combination of their good defense and our not so good offense. Their defense made it tough for us. They pulled their defense in and we couldn’t penetrate.
“But I don’t think we were playing to our full potential on offense.”
The statistics support the coaches’ views.
Xavier (1-0-2) had only seven shots, while Cheshire (0-2-1) had a paltry three. Xavier goalkeeper Dan Miela wasn’t called on to make a single save. Skydell had to make just four for the Rams.
None of the saves Skydell made were of the spectacular variety, but he had one good save late in the first half.
“Xavier kept us on our heels today,” said Branco. “But we expected that. Xavier has a very good team. They always have a tough team. Last year we came up here and they beat us and on paper, we had a much better team than we do this year. Yet today we get a tie.
“We didn’t play great, and we got a little lucky at the end.”
Under SCC rules, there is no overtime for regular season games.
Xavier will host Notre Dame of West Haven at Oakwood Friday at 3:45 p.m.