Perseverance. It was the only word head coach Tanner Reed could use to describe Caldwell County's fourth win of the 2019 season after surpassing everyone's expectations.
Two cards just 15 minutes in (3 overall in the first half) was nothing compared to the scene in the stands that closed out the final two minutes of Caldwell County's matchup with Christian County, as last-minute skirmishes nearly turned ugly; including confrontations that spilled over into the stands in the final moments.
Senior goalie Josh Hagan gave another high-caliber effort on Tuesday night with 20 saves, and stayed busy early as physicality came at a premium in Caldwell County's 3-2 win over the Colonels that was as hard-earned as any win the Tigers have had in a long time. Despite putting up just 13 shots to Christian County's 22, the Tigers found a way.
"Just through controversy, we felt like we didn't get a couple of things to go our way early in the match," Reed said. "We battled through it, we battled through a tough opponent that didn't want to give us an inch. Hats off to Christian County for the effort that they showed tonight. My team persevered with some obstacles and once again with a smaller team, and we didn't let them intimidate us."
Haiden Ball saw some action at the back right position for Caldwell County, who conceded the first goal of the night as Christian County took a 1-0 lead past Hagan in the 16th minute.
Thirteen minutes later, the Tigers answered on a huge assist from Hugo to Grayden Miller on a left side equalizer at 1-1.
Then, Blake Vivrette emerged on a PK for the first Caldwell County lead at 2-1 after a foul just before the half in stoppage moments.
After two penalty kicks helped win the Tigers their biggest game of the season last week against Hopkins County Central, Vivrette was once again at the right place at the right time.
Benito Rubio had a shot that went just left of the goal after Hagan challenged in the 45th, and Gavrie Watkins missed from midfield in the 47th.
Then came a brilliant stop in the 51st by the Christian County keeper after Miller got tripped up down the middle.
Twenty minutes of immense physicality culminated in Christian County's first PK in the 62nd, and after a bounce off the crossbar, Watkins tied it on the rebound 2-2 past Hagan.
Miller returned the favor with swiftness in the 65th, his second goal regaining the Caldwell lead at 3-2 on the dish from Hugo Lopez.
Caldwell's No. 24 held up No. 11 into the final eight minutes of regulation as the Colonels looked to send the match into overtime sessions.
Hagan came up with his biggest save of the game in the 74th when a flat shot nearly crossed the goal line. He then beat three attackers to the ball in the 77th to preserve the Caldwell lead.
Caldwell's Colt Babb came up with a block near the goal line to help seal the Tigers' fourth victory of the season.
"The backline I trust completely," Coach Reed added. "Sometimes, I rotate players in there. We were missing Christian Jones tonight with an injury, but Haiden Ball stepped up tonight and filled his shoes and used his center-mid role to play smart and play strong. That back-line, along with Josh Hagan in the goal, I trust their decisions. I may get onto them a lot, but I'm going to support anything that they do."
Caldwell held on for the victory, already doubling their win total of 2018 with a week and a half of regular season remaining.
The Tigers moved to 4-8-1 on the season after Miller's second goal to win it, and Christian County fell to 3-12-1.
Tigers host powerhouse Trigg County
The Tigers (4-9-1) fell to Region 2 best in Trigg County (11-1-12) at home 5-1 on Thursday at Butler Stadium.
Trigg County has lost just one game this season, a 2-1 loss to Region 1's Paducah Tilghman.
Blake Vivrette scored the lone goal for the Tigers, who also had 11 keeper saves from Josh Hagan.
The Tigers had previously won three of their last four games, and now await Paducah Tilghman on Tuesday night in their final home game of the regular season. Coach Tanner Reed and Caldwell County will also host the District 7 Soccer Tournament beginning in October.