PORT McNEILL—The two North Island high schools’ senior boys soccer sides remained inseparable last week as they tied 2-2 in Port McNeill, echoing the 1-1 draw in the sides’ opening game.
On another day, either side could have romped away with a game that saw periods of intense pressure, several missed chances and a spectacular equalizer.
An open and flowing start from both sides at the North Island Secondary School pitch Wednesday provided a few half chances in the opening stages but little to trouble either keeper.
It took a set-piece to break the deadlock midway through the half after a foul 25 yards out from the Port Hardy Secondary goal. Clifford Glendale was the first to react to a looping delivery into the box and he did well to slot home from a narrow angle past an oncoming Quentin Wamiss in the PHSS goal.
The PHSS side rallied and had several looks at goal but the home side soaked up the pressure and closed out the half on top, looking particularly dangerous from set piece work-ups.
PHSS looked a different side from the kick-off of the second half, immediately piling forward and putting NISS on the back foot.
They were rewarded minutes into the half when Daryll Coon earned a free kick on the edge of the box, then confidently stroked it into the corner to tie.
PHSS kept up the pressure and earned the lead when Grade 9 Steven Williamson picked up a rebound in the box and coolly lifted it high into the back of the net.
NISS fought its way back into the game with a series of counter attacks, the home side’s quick ball movement from midfield causing headaches for the PHSS defence.
The breaks had the desired effect when the PHSS back line got drawn to the left on a through ball, opening space for a whipped cross in front of goal. Moses Smith did superbly to convert, arriving late at the back post with a sliding scissor kick to turn a difficult ball into the net.
“I thought it was a good game,” said NISS coach Casey Mork, “again, that was probably a fair result. I thought e had better speed and we were the better team in the air but they had better passing than we did.”
“We played quite well,” said PHSS coach Mike Cleary, “we came back nicely in the second half; the first 15 minutes we dominated and probably should have put them away.”
The two sides have a pair of chances this week to break the deadlock. NISS once again hosted yesterday, after the Gazette went to press, and PHSS play at home today, Thursday, Oct. 16, at 1:15 p.m.
Both sides will use the games to make final preparations ahead of next week’s trip to Duncan for the Island A championships.