Cowboys rattle Sabres in OT
Both teams showed some overtime magic in the second round. Southwest Guilford had a little more for the third round.
With 3:41 left in the first 10-minute overtime, Tyler Vetsch blasted home a loose ball off a corner kick to give the 16th-seeded Cowboys a 1-0 win against visiting 24th-seeded South Mecklenburg on Wednesday in the third round of the NCHSAA 4A boys soccer playoffs.
With the win, Southwest, in the fourth round for the first time since 2006, will travel to No. 4 Hough, which beat No. 5 Northwest Guilford 2-1, on Saturday.
“Sometimes, it’s just who scores first,” said Cowboys coach Rob Szitas, whose team beat top-seeded Garinger in sudden-death overtime Saturday. “Tyler just hit an outstanding shot — what a beautiful shot. He hit it and, wow, it’s in the back of the net. There was just nothing anybody could do.”
After a back-and-forth regulation, Southwest (18-4-2) continued to pressure the Sabres (14-8-2), riding a bit of an advantage it gained in the latter half of the final 40 minutes of regulation. That pressure eventually led to a corner kick from the right side.
Off Andrew Gullickson’s kick, the Cowboys got a head on the ball, directing it through a scramble in front and on goal but the defense frantically cleared it away. It, however, found its way right to Vetsch near the top of the box, and he drilled a hard shot into the net.
“I sat at the top of the 18, and the ball came out to me on the ground,” he said. “I just shot it as hard as I could.
“It was pure euphoria,” he said of his reaction. “Pure ecstasy. There’s no feeling like it.”
South Meck, which beat Lake Norman in overtime in the second round, had a couple decent opportunities to tie in the second overtime, but the Southwest defense, anchored by an all-around strong performance by Kyle Shina in goal, limited the looks and held on for the shutout win.
Early on, the Sabres held a bit of the advantage, controlling possession and a creating a handful of dangerous chances. In the second half, however, the Cowboys answered with a much better job of pressuring South Meck and creating looks of their own.
“I think it just kind of clicked that, hey, the season’s winding down here,” Szitas said. “If we don’t do something, then we’re going to be the ones going home. We told them that at halftime -- that, hey, you’re going to have to go, you’re going to have to play. And you’re going to have to take control if you’re going to move on.”