Wootton Lax Overcomes Churchill in Wild Finish, 10-9
Overtime goal by senior Chris Cornelius lifts Patriots past Bulldogs in divisional rivalry game.
It was the biggest goal of Chris Cornelius's career but it never should have happened. While his overtime game-winner just 16 seconds into the extra stanza lifted the host Patriots to a 10-9 win against rival Churchill in a game Wootton supporters contest should have been over minutes earlier.
With the game tied, 8-8, and just over a minute to play, Wootton senior midfielder Danny Weinstein took the ball the length of the field and fired a shot past Churchill goalie Peter Hurd to give the Patriots a 9-8 lead with 1:04 left in the game.
However a clock malfunction led to the clock not stopping after the goal. After several minutes of confusion and ensuing discussion, the referee on the field instructed the clock operater in the booth to put 1:30 back on the clock. Despite pleas and protests from Wootton coaches, players and fans alike that there should be -- at most -- 1:04 left, the 90 seconds were put back on the clock.
Protecting a one-goal lead, Wootton feverishly tried to stave off an aggressive Churchill attack and seemed to be unteathered by the extra time, but with 25 seconds left in regulation, one second after time should have technically expired, Bulldog freshman Louis Dubick netted the game-tying goal sending it to overtime.
Many of the home fans were still reeling over what many were calling an egregious error when, at the 3:44 mark of the 4-minute overtime, after winning the opening draw, Cornelius drilled the game-winner past Hurd to give Wootton the sudden-death victory.
Despite the controversial ending, Cornelius was jubilant after the game.
"I can't even begin to describe what I'm feeling right now," said the senior midfielder as he was being swarmed by teammates and fans. "I didn't even think, I just ripped it. I've never hit a bigger shot in my life and it feels great, especially against a big rival like Churchill. It was a hell of a game."
Cornelius said the team didn't let what happened toward the end get to them and knew they had to maintain their focus in the extra period to get the win.
"We didn't let it phase us," Cornelius said. "We just played as if everything was normal and we're happy to get the win."
Wootton jumped out to a 6-3 halftime lead, thanks to six different Patriots scoring goals in the opening half, and after Jake Mitchell's goal three minutes into the third quarter, Wootton led 7-3. But Churchill began to slowly chip away at Wootton's lead and momentum began to shift in the Bulldogs' favor during the course of the third and fourth quarters.
Matt Leonard scored an unassisted goal with 9:03 left in the third to cut Wootton's lead to three. Thanks to a pair of goals from Dubick and a goal apiece from brothers Matt and Cameron Moshyedi, Churchiil (8-2) earned its first lead since the opening quarter and was up, 8-7, with 5:41 remaining in the fourth quarter. But just over a minute later Cornelius scored to tie the game at 8, setting up the wild finish where Wootton (7-4) would eventually prevail.
Wootton Coach Colin Thomson said afterwards he was proud of the way his team kept its composure.
"Big players step up in big moments and I'm proud of the way our guys hung in there," Thomson said. "It was a big division game and a great win."