By Brian Paglia
After a first half characterized by the opportunities it missed -- the seven corner kicks, the six long throw-ins, the five great looks in front of the net -- the Dutchtown boys soccer team made the most of its few chances in the second half.
Not 10 minutes into the second half, Jordi Landburg sent a cross to Judah Goodridge, who was waiting backdoor and finished to score the Bulldogs' only goal in their 1-0 win over Harris County in the first round of the Class AAAA tournament Tuesday.
Dutchtown (13-1-1) will host Wayne County (17-2) next Tuesday, May 4, but not with much momentum after its performance against the Tigers.
"We were lucky to win," Dutchtown coach Justin Smith said. "The other team worked harder than we did. We have a lot more skill, but that was the only thing we had tonight. I don't know what's going on in their heads, but we need to get it straight. We didn't play well."
Through 40 minutes of play, it was clear the Bulldogs held noticeable advantages in size, speed and skill, but there was no advantage on the scoreboard.
Dutchtown controlled possession and sustained the attack. Harris County had just two shots in the first half, neither of which were threatening for Bulldogs goalkeeper Mason Hall (six saves).
But the Bulldogs could not capitalize on its chances. Two long throw-ins from Landburg pulled Harris County's goalkeeper out to give a clear shot, but Tigers defenders thwarted the Bulldogs each time. Twice Goodridge had strong looks up close, but one shot missed the goal by inches, the other hit the bar and deflected off.
After all the corner kicks and long throw-ins and the 11 shots on goal in the first half, the game remained scoreless at halftime and Smith remained flummoxed.
"He wasn't happy at first, because we weren't finishing," Goodridge said. "Balls were going everywhere and nobody could get a touch. He told us to pass it around, get it to the goal and let the forwards finish."
Landburg and Goodridge heeded Smith's instructions quickly in the second half on Goodridge's goal in the 49th minute.
As Landburg sped down the left side, Goodridge paralleled him down the right. As Landburg sent a cross past a defender, Goodridge was waiting right behind the unsuspecting goalkeeper with a clear shot.
He took it, and Dutchtown led 1-0.
"I felt good after Jordi crossed it to me," Goodridge said. "It was a perfect spot."
Dutchtown managed just two shots on goal and one corner kick for the next 30 minutes. Harris County took advantage of a strong wind at its back to aid its attack and create several opportunities.
For a first round game against an opponent with a losing record, it was a more strenuous performance Smith expected and one he hopes can galvanize them for a formidable test in the second round.
"I hope it wakes us up," Smith said. "I hope it turns out well. It's good we're in the second round, but I don't feel good with how we played."