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Rough and tumble

Mineral Ridge, GV play to tie

Staff photo / Brian Yauger Mineral Ridge’s Ethan Smallsreed shoots one of the three penalty kicks the Rams had Thursday night against Grand Valley. Mineral Ridge capitalized on all three opportunities.

MINERAL RIDGE — It may have been a cool, drizzly evening, but the heated boys soccer matchup between Mineral Ridge and Grand Valley was enough to keep everyone in the stands warm.

With battles happening up and down the field over the 80-minute game, neither team was able to claim an edge as the game ended in a 3-3 draw.

“It was a hard-fought game for both sides,” Rams coach Ted Gaydosh said. “I really thought we had them. A couple mental breakdowns disciplinary-wise and formation-wise allowed them to get back in the game as well as we lost some mental focus.”

The Mustangs wasted no time getting on the board with Jordan Briggs catching the Ram defense off guard and scoring just 50 seconds into the game to take an early lead.

In a game with physical play, naturally, the referees will give their whistles a workout. Grand Valley found themselves on the wrong end of those whistles with the Rams getting three opportunities to take penalty kicks.

Staff photo / Brian Yauger Nate Colburn, left, of Mineral Ridge and Tyler Felix of Grand Valley race down the field while battling for possession during Thursday’s game at Mineral Ridge.

Mineral Ridge (3-1-1) made the most of those opportunities, scoring three goals on three penalty kicks. Ethan Smallsreed scored the first of those three just under the halfway mark of the first half, with Elias Clarke and Brayden Lowe following up in the second half.

In a game as hard-fought as this, that saw multiple penalty kicks and a player ejected, Mustangs coach Rick Huffman is happy with the patience his team showed.

“I’m proud of my boys for their maturity and patience,” Huffman said. “They’re a very tactical team. We’re teaching patience and maturity. That’s our model this year and are really pushing that. They came back. They were down two goals and they dominated in the second half playing with 10 men.”

With 28 minutes remaining and playing down a man, Grand Valley (3-0-2) was able to dominate possession of the ball, and rally back with goals from Briggs and Jaymeson Phillips to knot the game up at 3-3.

Both teams had multiple chances to grab the advantage in the remaining 17 minutes after Briggs’ second goal, but neither team was able to capitalize and the final buzzer sounded with a deadlocked final score.

Staff photo / Brian Yauger Mineral Ridge sophomore Seth Steward, left, tries to shake the defense of Grand Valley junior Tyler Felix.

As cliche as it is to mention lessons learned after a game, given the nature of the game, both coaches saw this game as a big learning experience.

“They impressed me,” Gaydosh said. “This is probably the best team that we’ve played this season and this is probably the most physical game we’ve played this season and for the most part they rose to the occasion.

“I had a couple players that struggled with keeping their calm, keeping their composure, but for the most part I was very happy with how they handled things and the way they played.”

Huffman thinks that tackling adversity the way they did Thursday will only benefit them in the future.

“We all know in this game you’re going to have adversity and you’re going to have challenges,” he said. “It’s the teams that are able to figure that out and work through that are the teams that are going to be successful.”

The Mustangs look to push forward against Mathews on Monday while Mineral Ridge welcomes Crestview to town on Tuesday.

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