St. Mary’s started the game with 10 men, and ended the game with 10 men. But when they did have a full complement of players on the field, they managed to eke out a 2-2 tie against rival Piedmont in a battle of two top EBAL teams on Friday.
The Panthers started the game with 10 players because of a mix-up with the starting lineup, and coach Teale Matteson quickly got his last player on the pitch. But Matteson’s team finished with 10 men because Bryan Warren, who minutes before had put his team ahead 2-1 with a brilliant goal, was given a red card for violent play. Warren kicked at another player from the ground, and was dismissed with less than seven minutes left in the match.
That opening was all the Piedmont team needed, as flanker Greg Moore ended a day of frustrating misses with a missile that sailed over the head of St. Mary’s goalkeeper Nick Osborn and into the net, knotting the score.
“We should have been able to hold a lead with 10 minutes left, but that was a stupid retaliation foul by Bryan,” Matteson said.
Warren’s dismissal, while unfortunate for the Panthers, was not unexpected. Both teams had been getting increasingly physical in the second half, with three different players being helped off of the field with injuries.
During actual gameplay, Piedmont was the aggressor for most of the game, and attacked down the flanks effectively. Several crosses went through the St. Mary’s box untouched, and midfielder Mark Beilock hit three shots directly at Osborn.
Two bright spots for St. Mary’s were defender Nolan Horinouchi and midfielder Stephon McGrew. Time and time again, Horinouchi turned back Piedmont attacks with fearless tackles and headers while McGrew controlled the middle of the field, running with the ball and distributing to his forwards for the few chances they had in the first half.
The game was scoreless at halftime, but Piedmont came out with a fury in the second half, and Beilock pounced on a loose ball in the 45th minute and wrong-footed Osborn, who didn’t even move to stop the ball on its way to the back of the net.
Two minutes later, Beilock beat Osborn to a cross and put a header on net, but Warren came back to clear the ball off of the line. Piedmont forward Steve Van Maren hit a cheeky backheel that came off the post, but Piedmont couldn’t add to their lead.
The Panthers made them pay in the 52nd minute, as Pat Barry’s corner kick bounced around in front of the Piedmont goal several times before Brendan Slevin hammered it into the roof of the net to tie the score.
“Every time St. Mary’s and Piedmont play, it’s exciting, fast, hard-fought soccer,” Matteson said. “Today was probably the best game we’ve played this year, but we also made a lot of mistakes.”