Up in the mountains of Boone, North Carolina in front of a crowd of over 1,300 people, the Otters came back from 4-2 down in the final ten minutes to draw 4-4 with Tobacco Road FC. The result eliminates the Otters from the playoff hunt but helps them continue to gain points in their most successful season to date.
The game was a back-and-forth affair from the get-go and the game saw several chances in the first fifteen minutes. Despite the score line, excellent goalkeeping dictated the game, with the Tobacco Road keeper denying a close-range, Taylor Gray (Reinhardt) header in the 15th minute.
Undeterred, the Otters got on the board four minutes later, when an Alex Horveno (Lynn) cross from the wing found Freddy Tracey (Charleston) who hit it one-time to give the Otters the 1-0 lead.
Four minutes after that, Tobacco Road were able to equalize when a shot in the box deflected off of a defender and into the net.
The Otters continued to pour on the pressure, as Horveno, Tracey, Gray, Stuart Hendry (Wingate), and Cole McLagan (Furman) all had good chances in the half that were either saved or just missed.
In the 39th minute, after Tobacco Road had a sustained period of possession in the Otters defensive half, they earned a penalty kick that they converted to pull ahead 2-1 going into the half.
The beginning of the second half was much like the first, with the Otters attacking corps, aided by substitutes Troy Brady (Canisius) and Luke Howson (ETSU), continued to push for the equalizer but could not get one into the back of the net.
Tobacco Road began to get forward, and several key interventions and blocks from George Stanley (Montreat) and Merveil Bilomba (ETSU), plus some big time saves by Tim Trilk (Western Illinois), kept the game a one-goal difference.
However, in the 72nd minute after a controversial offsides on Taylor Gray, Tobacco Road were able to play quickly, and an unlucky deflection saw the ball go over Trilk and put Tobacco Road up 3-1 with twenty minutes to play.
Three minutes later, Marvin Made (University of the Cumberlands) played a ball wide to Brady who drove in and cut it back for Made to blast home and pull the Otters back within a goal.
Just 85 seconds later, an unlucky bounce in the midfield allowed Tobacco Road to get a shot off in the box from a tight angle that was just able to sneak in the near post to push Tobacco Road’s lead back to two goals.
That was the last chance for Tobacco Road, as the Otters dialed up the pressure from there and dominated possession in the final 15 minutes. The Otters were able to pull another one back in the 85th minute when a superb strike by Taylor Gray from 22 yards out rolled past everyone to get the Otters to within 4-3 with less than ten minutes to play.
After several very good chances by Brady, Hendry played a ball wide to Gray who drove in and sent in a cross that Tracey tapped home after a deflection off of a Tobacco Road defender to pull the Otters level at 4-4 in stoppage time.
With their season on the line and needing all three points, the Otters continued to press forward. A fantastic service from Drew Fulmer (Palm Beach Atlantic) off a corner kick allowed Stanley to hit a booming header that was supremely saved by the Tobacco Road keeper to keep the game level. On the ensuing corner by Fulmer, the ball deflected to goalkeeper Tim Trilk whose backheel attempt was just saved by a defender. The Otters got one last chance when neither Bilomba, Stanley, or Gray were able to get a touch on a cross by Hendry inside the six-yard box.
The Otters finished with 25 shots on the day, a single-game record for the team. The four goals were also only the third time the team had reached that mark in a game, and the second time against Tobacco Road this season.
The Otters will close out their 2019 season on the road in Durham, North Carolina when they face this Tobacco Road side for the third and final time this season. Depending on results around the league, a win on Saturday would have the Otters finish in second place in the South Atlantic Division. Follow us on social media to make sure you do not miss any end of the season action! #FearTheFur