The T.C. Williams boys soccer team time and time again created scoring chances during its April 29 game against West Potomac. A free kick here. An accurate cross there. The Titans put the pressure on Wolverine goalkeepers.
But despite ample opportunities, TC found the net only once during regulation, and a resilient West Potomac team tied the score at 1 in the 75th minute on a goal by James Taylor.
"I was a little nervous, especially when they scored with 5 minutes left," junior defender Nazzareno Spurio said. "It was demoralizing."
The game went into overtime. One night after an emotional victory over Annandale, Titans head coach Martin Nickley had a message for his team.
"I thought we created a lot of good chances — both in the run of play and I thought we were dangerous on our set pieces, as well — and we just got unlucky not to finish some of those," he said. "That’s the message that we tried to get across to the players: ‘You’re playing very well. Yeah, we gave up a goal but we are playing a good match. … You’ve just got to believe that you can keep going forward and you can keep creating those chances and we’re going to get one."
The Titans listened. Eight minutes into overtime, it paid off.
Conor Boyle scored the game-winner, deflecting his shot off a West Potomac player for a 2-1 victory at Parker-Gray Stadium.
"Their defender hit it with his head and tried to clear it," Boyle said of the action prior to the goal. "I was just standing there and it popped right under my foot. I took a step back, I swung my leg and it was going into the left corner. Their defender dove [for the ball to] hit his foot so it would go in but he ended up hitting it in the opposite side."
Boyle also scored the game-winner the previous night in a 2-1 victory over Annandale.
T.C. Williams’ first goal came on a free kick by Mauricio Salvatierra in the 18th minute. West Potomac freshman goalkeeper Rafael Morales, who made several athletic saves during the game, was removed from the game moments earlier after receiving a yellow card.
Salvatierra, Boyle and sophomore forward Mansaray are the team’s top goal-scoring threats.
Nickley spoke highly of the Titan defenders, led by Spurio — "the real glue back there," Nickley said — Andrew Frank, Will Longabaugh and Matthew Coda. Goalkeepers Matthew Crawley and Jose Flores have also played well, the coach said.
TC lost to Lake Braddock 3-2 on May 3, dropping its final Patriot District record to 3-2-2. The Titans travel to face Wakefield at 7 p.m. on May 7 and begin the district tournament on May 17.
The Titans won the district back in 2008, a team which included seniors Alhaji Hassann, Boyle, Longabaugh and junior Paolo Torres.