OAK PARK HEIGHTS — The Stillwater boys’ soccer team didn’t play its best game, but the Ponies did play to the end while pulling out a 1-all tie against rival Woodbury in Thursday’s Suburban East Conference game at Stillwater Area High School.
Patrick Roth scored for the Ponies with just five seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime and salvage an otherwise lackluster performance to remain the only unbeaten team in the conference.
Stillwater (4-0-1 SEC, 7-1-3) with 13 points holds a one-point lead over Mounds View (4-1-0, 6-2-0) and Roseville (4-1-0, 6-3-1) in the conference standings with four games remaining.
“We always have good games with Woodbury,” Ponies coach Phil Johnson said. “There was a major power outage of effort from the group in the first half and we looked slow and unenthused. Woodbury played better than us and deserved to win. They maxed out their skills and took advantage of their opportunities and we did not.”
The Ponies nevertheless earned a point thanks to the last-second heroics, that began with a quick throw-in near midfield. Nathan Purdie turned the ball and pushed it through the back line where Roth took a shot that was initially stopped by goalkeeper Jacob Simon. Roth was there to collect the loose ball and he slid it over the line for the tying goal with just five seconds remaining.
“He never quit on the ball,” Johnson said. “The boys were very elated and pretty excited. It was a good effort, and those two guys, along with Roma (Devine), Ben (Wilhelm) was great goal and Kevin (Meads) in the back just put on a great performance.”
Each team put two shots on goal in the two five-minute overtime periods, but neither was able to finish.
Woodbury scored about 10 minutes into the second half to take a 1-0 lead when Keng Xong knocked in a pass to the far post by Nicholas Sheak.
“We failed to mark their back post and he just drilled it past Ben,” Johnson said. “It scooted right through and Ben was pretty defenseless, we just didn’t mark him.”
The coach suggested his team was fortunate to tie on a night that didn’t feature their best performance.
“We’re in our homecoming week and we have discussions daily about elimination distractions,” Johnson said. “We’re going to talk about the frontal lobes of teenagers and decision making and flights of fancy, because we are quite skilled and quite fast and quite capable — but (on Thursday) we were quite complacent.”
n Also on Thursday, the Stillwater JV team posted a 1-0 victory over the Royals and the B-squad lost 2-1.
Both teams are hosting tournaments on Saturday with Totino-Grace, Hudson, Mahtomedi and North St. Paul scheduled to compete. The Ponies will also host Totino-Grace in a varsity game at 1 p.m.
Woodbury 0 1 0 — 1
Stillwater 0 1 0 — 1
Wo — 9:40 — Keng Xiong (Nicholas Sheak)
St — 39:55 — Patrick Roth (Nathan Purdie)
Shots on goal — Wo: 10; St: 8.
Corner kicks — Wo: 6; St: 5.
Fouls — Wo: 5; St: 5.
Goalie saves — Wo: Jacob Simon 7; St: Ben Wilhelm 9.