PLATTSBURGH — It was that close to happening for the Peru boys’ soccer team Saturday night.
With Averill Park keeper Hunter DuPont out of the play, Jessy Dick’s shot headed towards the open net in the second overtime and with it a trip to the Class A final four for the Indians.
But just as the Peru side was poised to celebrate, a Warrior defender saved the day near the goal line by kicking the ball out of harm’s way.
Then, with 8:31 gone in the stanza, Owen Nuss’ goal gave Section II champion Averill Park a 2-1 victory over the Indians in the NYSPHSAA regional championship game held the Plattsburgh High School Athletic Complex.
“That was the one,” Peru coach Matt Armstrong said, referring to the Indians’ scoring chance. “I can’t complain about our effort (Saturday). We did the very best that we can and it was a tough one to lose.”
It didn’t go well for the Section VII champion Indians in the first overtime. Peru lost center midfielder Jonathan Plessis-Belair to an injury and then had to play a man down the rest of the way because of a red card.
“We’ve faced a lot of adversity this year and we’ve had to persevere,” Armstrong said.
After the Indians nearly won it in the second overtime, Nuss took the ball slowly down the left side, avoided a couple of Peru defenders and sent a shot from a difficult angle into the upper part of the net on the far side.
“It was a great shot,” Armstrong said.
The Indians (10-5-2) started out slowly in the contest and Averill Park (10-9-3), which plays against several Class AA schools during the regular season, held a 7-2 edge in shots over the first 40 minutes.
The Warriors also held a 1-0 lead when Josh Lionarons turned near the top of the box and found the net with a low shot inside the far post with 21:38 gone in the opening half.
The Indians, however, turned up their play after intermission.
“We needed to regroup at halftime,” Armstrong said. “We didn’t want to make it more than it is.”
Averill Park made the mistake of going into more of a defensive shell and that wasn’t a good idea with the likes of Jacob Dick and Ian Spear on the Peru side.
With 10:14 gone in the second half, Dick sent in a long cross from the side and Spear, stationed on the far side of the net, one-timed the ball from close range into the net for a 1-all tie.
The Indians then played the Warriors on even terms the rest of the way.
Averill Park finished with an 18-12 advantage in shots. DuPont made eight saves for the Warriors and Guy Loveless played well for the Indians with 10 stops.
Jacob Dick and Spear are two of the seniors the Indians will be losing off this year’s title team.
“I’ve coached those two since seventh grade and they have been great for our program.”
Armstrong said. “They have brought a lot of attention to the Peru soccer team.”
Averill Park 2, Peru 1 (OT)
Averill Park 1 0 0 1 — 2
Peru 0 1 0 0 — 1
First half- 1, AP, Lionarons (Hoyt), 21;38.
Second half- 2, P, Spear (J. Dick), 10:14.
Second overtime- 3, AP, Nuss, 8:31.
Shots: Averill Park 18, Peru 12.
Saves: DuPont, AP, 8. Loveless, P, 10.