The turf field behind Evergreen High School won’t ever be confused with Azteca Stadium, Old Trafford or San Siro, but the Cougars sure treat the place like a fortress.
And pity the team that has to face them.
The Cougars swarmed like angry bees Sept. 4, dominating Ralston Valley in all aspects of the game before a jubilant crowd. But unlike last year’s lone home game against Columbine (a 4-1 drubbing dished out by the Cougars), Evergreen could not get its dominance to show on the scoreboard.
“We should have put some more away,” senior forward Nat Prouty said after Evergreen’s 1-1 draw with the Mustangs. “Kind of seemed like we rushed it a little bit.”
The Cougars had to rally against their Class 4A Jefferson County League rivals, as they appeared to run themselves into a lull after about an hour.
Freshman Danny Jensen was the hero for the Cougars, as he headed home Greg Phee’s corner kick in the 69th minute to equalize. The goal came just over a minute after the Mustangs had grabbed an opening goal that went well against the run of play for most of the game.
“Great first half, I just feel like we got taken out of our game and couldn’t quite pull it back together,” Evergreen first-year coach Peters Jeans said. “We have very strong, technical players, who can possess the ball very well and distribute it very well. The other team ratcheted up the physical element of the game, and they got us in more of a horse race.”
The Cougars were forced to deal with an early injury to forward Chris Roggow, which Prouty felt hurt the team’s chemistry a little. The home side also felt they were on the wrong side of the referee’s whistle more times than naught, and battled some mounting mental frustration.
The Cougars were rampant in the first half, attacking direct and to feet on either flank and right down the middle. The Mustangs repelled the home team with an all-hands-on-deck effort, but the odds seemed to favor the Cougars breaking through any moment.
It didn’t happen. It didn’t happen still on Prouty’s shot two minutes into the second half or his bulldozing run in the 50th minute where he saved the ball twice, chased it to the end line and centered to Gavin Scharig atop the 6-yard box. Scharig’s shot was saved.
Things turned against the Cougars in the 58th minute when backup goalkeeper Ethan Ledrer had to prevent an own goal off an attempted clearance by one of his defenders. Ledrer is the junior varsity keeper and did a fantastic job filling in.
The Mustangs started getting wide and crossing everything into the box and finally scored in the 68th.
Both teams had excellent scoring chances in the first overtime. The Mustangs bungled a great chance three minutes in, before Scott Boland had a great chance from the right side of the penalty area, only to strike the ball right at the Mustangs’ keeper.