The marriage of man and moment manifested itself with time a fleeting notion.
Shawn Larroza’s golden goal, with 49.6 seconds left in overtime, put an exclamation point on a beautiful, if stressful, afternoon of boys soccer at Conestoga Valley High School on Wednesday.
The senior striker’s goal guaranteed reigning L-L League champion Manheim Township would get the chance to defend that title as the Blue Streaks (9-1 L-L Section One, 10-2 overall) claimed the section title with a 2-1 victory over CV.
While a tie would’ve delivered the title to the Streaks as well — by virtue of their earlier 1-0 victory over the Buckskins — it was sweeter to win it on the field.
“We talked about it at halftime,” Streaks coach Kevin Baker said. “(CV is) a fantastic team. We didn’t want to sit back. They put us under a lot of pressure in that second half.”
“We came in with the mindset we were going to win this,” said coach Dave Hartlaub, whose Bucks finished the regular season 8-2 in the league as well as 8-2 overall. With only the section champions qualifying for the league tournament this year, CV will be idle until the District Three tournament opens Nov. 4.
“We gave every effort,” Hartlaub said. “Credit to Township, they got it done.”
Not much got done in a scoreless first half that saw a lot of pace, but few dangerous opportunities.
Off the opening tap, Township sped down the field, creating a shot-save-corner opportunity that was cleaned up by CV keeper Luke Snader.
Ten minutes in, off Andrew Wahba’s corner service, the Bucks’ Caden Wagner tested Streaks keeper Quinn McCarty with a header. McCarty was equal to the task.
For much of the game, the Streaks’ back line juggled hand grenades, overcoming momentary defensive lapses created by the Buckskins’ pressure.
“We created a number of chances,” Hartlaub said. “We didn’t finish enough.”
As the clock ticked under 12 minutes in regulation, CV finished a chance that began, innocently enough, with a free kick from near midfield by Sawyer Shertzer.
Down the right side, Ashton Herr redirected the service into the box, where Tarius Jackson kept it alive before threading a pass to Owen Linder. Linder tried, and missed, with his leg and as the ball squirted into the air he kept it alive, heading it multiple times before heading it home.
“They played their tails off to get that ball into the back of the net,” Hartlaub said.
The Bucks’ advantage lasted eight minutes, until Brady Yohe’s free kick from about 40 yards came to Robbie Irizarry in the box. Irizarry’s finish was emphatic, and it was on to overtime.
With the sun sinking lower behind the team benches, and time ticking under a minute, McCarty punted the ball out of his penalty area. The kick, a boomer, came to Shea Miller-Smith, who won it in midair, just over midfield.
“He barely flicked it,” Larroza said. “As soon as I saw he won it, I knew it was (coming).”
As he collected the ball Larroza considered one-timing it, but saw a defender cheating a little bit.
“So I chopped it across to the far corner,” he said. “The keeper was way out, all the way on the other side of the (near) post. I didn’t hit it that strong. I didn’t have to.”
Strong enough to send the Streaks to leagues.
“Shawn is one of those players,” Baker said. “He’s a threat every time he steps on the field. All he needs in a game is one opportunity.”