A rainy drizzle came down all day yesterday that apparently dampened the Bison\’s spirit and resolve. The Bison\’s took control of the game right from the start, but it was apparent that Bradford\’s goal was to not let the Bison\’s score as they packed their defensive third with 7 or 8 players.
Bison shots were off the mark, or cleared or blocked by Bradford. Bradford played for the transition game. The goals scored against Clearfield came as the result of keeper errors. In one case the keeper clearance was right to a Bradford players feet, and the other should have been easy save that was allowed to slip under his hands and into the back of the net. Winston Lyle was replaced by freshman keeper Ben Johnson.
Bradford\’s third goal came as the result of a defensive breakdown that resulted in a 1 v 1 with Ben Johnson, and the Bradford player found the back of the net again. Clearfield attempted to rally in the first half, but with 8 to 9 players in the final third it was tough to find a way to goal.
The half came to a close as the Bisons were now facing 40 minutes to attempt to find 3 goals just to tie the score. Clearfield came out strong in the second half with high pressure that kept the Owls tied up in their own end of the field. At about the 50th minute, Bradford was whistled for obstruction in the left side of the penalty area, and Mark and John Lhota set up the ball for the indirect kick. After Bradford\’s wall was set, they talked it over and awaited the whistle. Johnny touched the ball to the right, and Mark hit a blistering shot into the upper right corner of the goal to cut the Bradford lead to two goals. Clearfield continued to press the game, and was awarded a free kick from about 45 yards out. Mike Johnson pushed forward from his sweeper position, and broke free in the center of the penalty area as Mark drove the ball to the spot, where Mike headed the ball into the back of the net for the second goal.
With twenty minutes to play, the players were intent on fighting for 1st, 2nd and third balls, and then to find the space to cross or shoot on goal. The pressure on Bradford\’s back line was intense as they did all they could to block shots, or create double teams on Mark Auman and John Lhota, whenever they received the ball.
With ten minutes to play, Coulton Casteel rounded the right side of the penalty box and crossed a ball to the center of the box to a free and clear Kurtis Graham, who headed the ball down and into the side netting to tie the game at 3 – 3. The Bisons continued to pressure the game, but did not produce any additional goals, and the teams headed into overtime with the score knotted at 3 -3. It was clear that Bradford was playing for the draw as they packed the box with nine players.
The first ten minutes went by quickly with 7 shots by the Bisons, and no shots by the Owls. The pressure in the second ten minute overtime was intense again, as Clearfield looked for inside and outside ways to break down the Owl defense. At the 93rd minute, Mark received the ball at the edge of the penalty area, and turned his man, and broke into the box. Mark beat the second defender, and was tripped in the process. While the trip was soft, the whistle was immediate, and Clearfield was awarded the penalty kick. Mark set the ball, and awaited the whistle, then drove the ball high into the back of the net. Micah Ridley, the Bradford keeper never had a chance, and Clearfield\’s rebound from a 3 – 0 half time deficit was complete. The players showed character and patience and the will to win, and the coaches were very proud of their comeback. Clearfield\’s
record is 2-0-0, and continue play on Thursday at Hollidaysburg.