CHARLOTTE – The Country Day soccer team has been inconsistent at times this season, and it seemed that was going to be the case again Oct. 3 as rival and unbeaten Charlotte Latin raced out to a 3-0 halftime lead.
It had to have been a case of here we go again for the Bucs, who had given up three first-half goals in the team’s previous meeting earlier this month before eventually falling, 5-1.
But this time it was different.
“At halftime we told the boys this,” said Country Day coach Dustin Swineheart. “The second half of this game is a mental battle and it’s the belief that you think you can go and get this game back. A game like this can really boost this and help these guys have the confidence, but it was up to them.”
The Bucs came out in the second half with much more confidence, looking to prove they were capable of competing with the best in the state, despite their 10-9 overall record and 5-4 mark in the CISAA that has them tied with Providence Day for third place in the conference.
“We’re more dangerous than the scoreboard indicated last time, and I think that’s why teams have been sleeping on us,” said senior Philip Scheurer. “This time it came down to finishing chances, and we were able to make the most of ours.”
The Bucs got a goal and an assist from Johnny Bingham, but looked dead in the water after Latin star Daniel Derraik scored his second goal of the game to give the Hawks what seemed like a comfortable 4-2 advantage.
But that lead would not last.
Junior Tyler Swineheart scored three second-half goals, including one with the ball bouncing around the box and with just a few minutes remaining.
With 46 seconds left, Scheurer pocketed the game-winner past the Latin keeper, and the Bucs held on for an improbable 5-4 come-from-behind win they are hoping will spur something special.
“I think right now it’s two things for us,” coach Swineheart said. “First, you obviously want to finish high in your conference, but secondly it’s a belief inside of this team that they can win every game that we play. We believe this group can compete for a state championship and it’s games like this that really validate it and lets us know that we’re good enough and we have the confidence to do it.”
In the win over Latin, it was the Bucs who controlled the set pieces and took advantage of the 50-50 balls. Coach Swineheart said that in some of the losses, those have been the issues that have held his team back, but the margin for error has always been small.
Now, with a win over an unbeaten rival after an unlikely comeback, coach Swineheart and his guys are hoping the momentum carries over into the postseason.
“I don’t think anybody but our fans and ourselves thought we had a chance today,” Scheurer said. “We were down 3-0 and it was pretty demoralizing, but I always knew there was a chance. Up until the last minute we kept on fighting and it turned out for us. I think this could be big for us.”
Although the Bucs lost to Covenant Day in their following game, they are hoping the win over Latin can propel them the rest of the way.
“We took one on the chin from these boys the last time, so it was a good validation for these guys that they can compete with anyone,” coach Swineheart said. “Right now, this is the highlight moment for them so far. It’s really sweet and I’m proud of them but I hope we can use this and let this carry us.”