Down 6-5 and the clock ticking with under a minute left in the fourth quarter it looked as if the Cougars were out of time in trying to remain undefeated in Concorde District play. In the span of 15 seconds, however, they found the offense they had been searching for all game, scoring two quick goals, snapping up the victory over Westfield, 7-6.
Westfield senior attack Seth Patterson scored his third goal of the game with just 2:36 remaining in the fourth quarter, giving the Bulldogs the 6-5 edge. The Cougars’ offense then sprang to life as sophomore attack Alex Yost found the net with just 0:53 to go in regulation play to tie the game and senior midfielder Rob Koster followed, emerging from a pile and whipping the ball past the goalie for the game winner with just 0:38 left.
“One of our players took it in…shot…and it was just fumbling around on the ground and I scooped it up and just turned and shot,” said Koster.
Oakton (3-1, 3-0 Concorde) had been averaging close to 12 goals per game entering the contest with Westfield (4-2, 2-1) but the Cougars came stumbling out of the gate without their high-powered offense and quickly fell behind, 2-0, as Bulldog midfielders Ryan Higbie and Patrick Knowlan opened up the scoring in the first quarter.
“We were expecting a close game but we came out slow, real slow, we were expecting to come out faster and harder. Westfield came out hard and we weren’t expecting that really,” said Koster.
<b>KOSTER HELPED THE</b> Cougars find their feet as he assisted senior attack James McClellan to Oakton’s first goal and then followed with one of his own to tie the score 2-2 as the first quarter closed. The teams traded goals in the second quarter, Yost and Patterson both striking, but the Bulldogs found themselves with a 4-3 halftime advantage thanks to Higbie’s second goal of the game on a streaking shot that beat the goalie with a single second remaining in the first half.
“Every time we’ve played Westfield it’s always within two goals, it’s been like that ever since I started coaching for the most part, so we knew it was going to be a close one. Our guys really didn’t have it tonight so that’s why our halftime speech was basically, we’re not playing our best game and we’re still within one at the half,” said Oakton head coach Tony Gray.
The teams continued trading goals in the second half with the Cougars tying the game twice only to see Westfield jump back out in front. Oakton held on long enough to take advantage of their opportunities and remain undefeated at home.
“We have a motto; head, heart and hustle and we definitely weren’t playing with our head. The good thing is that they picked up the heart and the hustle and that’s what got us the goals in the end, it wasn’t off of any set plays, just hustling and finding broken opportunities,” said Gray.
The Cougars spread around the scoring in the team effort with McClellan, Yost and Koster each scoring twice and also got an unexpected goal from junior defenseman Jack Tyler.
“I think this year’s there’s more of a team thing this year, they usually have one or two or three standout players and I don’t think that’s the case this year. I think they just play well as a team,” said Westfield head coach Gary Malm of the Oakton Cougars. “Fortunately for us, we have an opportunity to probably again meet them some time in the playoffs. It’s another loss, but we got a whole season ahead of us.”