TAMPA -- Joseph Metzger scored with 10 minutes to go to earn Jesuit's soccer team a 1-1 tie with Tampa Catholic at Crusaders Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Tigers (1-0-1) had been building pressure on the Crusaders as the second half had gone on, and it finally told as Christopher Conlon's cross from the right was met on the half-volley by Metzger and tucked into the right corner of the net from eight yards out.
Tampa Catholic had taken the lead in the eighth minute, a long throw-in from the left by Steven Ramos being flicked on by Brendan McCarron to Christian Blattler, who flicked a volley into the right corner of the net.
The Crusaders (1-0-2) had other chances to extend their lead, Andrew Buckley having his chance snuffed out by advancing Jesuit goalkeeper Seth Drummond after Buckley had been put in through on the left side. Drummond also made an outstanding save, scrambling across his goal to turn a shot pinpointed for the top right corner of his net by McCarron on a quickly taken free kick early in the second half.
“He made some brilliant saves to keep us in the game,” Jesuit coach Bob Bauman said.
As each half went on, though, the young Tigers side came further and further into the game and began to create opportunities of their own. The Tigers almost tied the game midway through the second half as Stephen Gathman's downward header off a corner from the left came off the ground hard, hit the underside of the crossbar and was finally swept away for another corner by a TC defender. That corner created another opportunity for Joel Gutierrez, whose shot went off the post before being gathered by TC goalkeeper Paul Wilson.
The Crusaders, who began the game with a short bench, also struggled with injuries as Kevin Carter was unable to complete the game with a hip problem, and Matt Moore left the game late with cramps. TC coach Kevin McCarron said he was happy to take a tie.
“I think ultimately it was a fair result,” McCarron said. “If the game goes on any longer, they win the game because we just ran out of subs. Of course, we're disappointed we didn't win, but this is as close as we've come to a win here since I've been the coach here.”
Bauman too believed his side would have earned victory had they had a little more time, but was happy with the way his side played against the more experienced Crusaders, and how they were able to limit Buckley's opportunities.
“Our backline did a very good job of forcing him away from goal where he couldn't really be as creative,” Bauman said. “Last year, I think he scored two against us where we let him slip in over the top and didn't have a chance to recover. For us today, I think every time he got it, we forced him away from goal.”
Jesuit faces Robinson in its district opener on Monday before facing Tampa Prep on Wednesday. Tampa Catholic also opens district play this week, travelling to face Berkeley Prep on Thursday after a game against Anclote on Tuesday.