There would be goals, Homestead boys soccer coach Paco Castillo promised. There would be goals, even though this was Homestead vs. Carroll, and – as is customary between the two – the scoreboard was as empty after 40 minutes as it had been at the opening whistle.
He told us at halftime, the goals are going to come, said Homestead senior Chris Anderson, who did indeed get the only goal that was necessary en route to a 2-0 Spartans win Monday at Pat Teagarden Field. Just keep on penetrating, keep on working hard and possessing the ball.
And, lo and behold, those nice round zeroes finally gave way. In the 52nd minute, as a brief downpour suddenly made the going treacherous, Nick Anderson drove a solid ball to spring Tyler Fitts down the right sideline, Fitts slid it into the box as he hit the corner, and the wet ball squirted beneath Carroll goalkeeper Michael Didion’s hands as he dived to retrieve it.
There was Chris Anderson, leaping over Didion to punch it home.
I got kind of lucky, Anderson said. It just kind of rolled under his hands, and I was able to just jump over the guy and get the goal. Just follow my shot – that’s what Paco’s been talking about, follow your shots and execute it.
Not quite half an hour later, Rashaan Stephens added the exclamation point, scoring on a free kick as time expired after Didion was sent off with a red card.
The win enabled Homestead to finish in a tie for first with DeKalb in the NHC, and, Castillo said, was something of a reversal of fortune for a team that had missed the mark too many times recently.
We’ve been on the other end, making the mistake and paying for it, or being right on the edge (of a win), he said. And when you play Carroll, it’s going to come down to who makes the mistakes, because they’re going to play us tough every year. We were fortunate to have the mistake on their side this time.
It finished off a game in which the Spartans got the lion’s share of the big chances in the first half, the biggest on a point-blank header by Nick Anderson that just slid wide in the 16th minute.
And Didion came up with a couple of big saves to keep Homestead off the board, including a stellar tip over the crossbar of a blast from just outside the box.
In the second half, the Chargers applied most of the pressure down the stretch, but Homestead goalkeeper Zach McFarland matched Didion with a handful of big saves – in particular smothering a bomb off the left side in the 67th minute.