Northview stood in position to clinch at least a share of the Northern Lakes League’s soccer championship on Tuesday heading into a matchup with Anthony Wayne.
A victory for the Wildcats over the Generals would make that a reality.
It’s so much easier said than done.
AW denied a Northview celebration by pulling out a 2-1 victory on the Generals’ home field.
"We knew we needed to come out and win," said AW coach Brian Billings, whose Generals are 10-0-3 overall and 4-0-2 in the NLL. "We put ourselves in a bad spot with a couple of ties. We knew we had to come out and establish our game right away and try to get a win. Luckily, we put it in, and we're just happy to get another win and keep kind of moving on."
Zach Harris and J.J. Fortner led the way for the Generals, scoring a goal apiece to keep AW's hopes alive of earning at least a share of the league title. AW and Northview have one league game remaining. Should both teams win their final league game, the Generals and Wildcats will end up as co-league champions, according to Northview coach Jon Haynes.
"It's my understanding that two ties are equal to a loss," said Haynes, whose team stands at 9-2-2 overall and 5-1 in league.
Harris gave the Generals some early confidence against the Wildcats by putting a shot in the back of the Wildcats’ goal with 5:07 remaining before halftime to give AW a 1-0 lead. He pushed the shot by Northview goalie John Wendt off an assist from Fortner.
"I just looked up and saw an opening and hit it," Harris said.
Fortner padded the Generals’ lead when he scored on a shot from close range with just under nine minutes left to play in the second half to make it 2-0.
"I went for the far post and happened to find it," Fortner said.
For more than three quarters of the game it looked like the Generals were well on their way to scoring a decisive victory over the Wildcats.
However, the Wildcats never slowed, and when Jake Mason scored a goal with 6:42 remaining, the game began to take a slight change with Northview gaining momentum.
Despite the Wildcats having chances to tie the score late with shots against Generals goalie Austin Kaminski, their comeback attempt came up short.
Haynes thought their best opportunities came early in the first half when they missed on some scoring chances, including a missed penalty kick by Matt Bules.
"If we are focused and composed, it should be 2-0 us in the first 15 minutes of the game," Haynes said. "I think that puts the game away. Instead, we don't finish the one chance across the box and we don't finish the penalty. Unfortunately, that comes back to haunt you."