By Thomas Sellers Jr.
BARTLETT — The Millington Trojans outscored the Bolton Wildcats 4-0 during the first round of the District 14-3A Soccer Tournament.
But the Trojans were outscored 5 goals to 4 by Wildcat standout Russell Alvarez on the Bartlett Stadium field. And unfortunately for the Trojans, Alvarez’s shots counted May 6 and gave Bolton a 5-4 victory in overtime ending the 2013 season for Millington.
“Russell, that boy is a player,” Millington Head Coach Larry Dagen said. “He did great today. We put our little freshman Austin (Smith) on him to ball mark him during the game. He shut him down and did a great job. But that kid took the game into his own hands.”
Alvarez tied the game in the second half of the overtime at 4-4 with a quick goal. Just 35 seconds into the period, Alvarez took advantage of Smith not being on him to create enough space to get a shot off into the net.
Then with less than 2 minutes remaining in the overtime, Alvarez tallied his final and fifth goal of the night.
That was the second time in the game Alvarez needed goals to overcome a Millington advantage. The Trojans jumped out to a 2-0 lead after goals from Smith and senior Brendon Van Emelen. The Huntingdon College signee used his skills to blast a shot on net putting the Trojans ahead by a pair of goals.
“We have one who does the same thing as Russell,” Dagen said. “He has had a great run for us, that Brendon Van Emelen. I’ve had a lot great talented kids come my way, the Reyes boys and Kyle Eubanks. But nothing like this with Van Emelen. All of them were great kids but he brings something else to the game, a whole new competitiveness to the game.”
The combination of Van Emelen possessing the ball and Millington goalie Kevin Reilly making saves helped the Trojans claim a 2-0 halftime lead.
The score remained the same until the 27:50 mark of the second half when Alvarez took over the game. His first gale came 12 minutes and 10 seconds into the second half.
Slightly more than 2 minutes later Alvarez tied the game blasting a shot on goal. Then 10 minutes later Alvarez gave Bolton its first lead of the contest after falling to the turf. He was able to maintain control of the ball as he got up and turned around to get a shot off.
It appeared with less than 7 minutes remaining in the game the Wildcats were up 4-2 when Alvarez nailed a penalty kick from 30 feet out. But a yellow card was given to a Bolton defender for rough play canceling out the goal.
Van Emelen said the Wildcats played physical all game adding some verbal insults.
“We kept calm and they were talking,” he said. “They were talking bad to us but we kept our cool.”
Millington keeping its cool set the table for Carlos Lipsey. The sophomore came off the bench with instructions from Coach Dagen.
“Carlos and his goal, I told him, ‘Get into the middle of the field and intergetic energy into the game,’” Dagen recalled. “‘You get in there and go.’”
With time running out Lipsey got a breakaway and missed the goal by a couple of feet. But the sophomore forward took advantage of his second chance by connecting and tying the contest at 3-3.
Regulation time ran out setting up the overtime of two 10-minute halves.
In the first half of the OT, Van Emelen put the Trojans ahead 4-3. Bolton’s physical play finally caught up with it when Van Emelen was tackled in the goalie box. That gave Van Emelen a penalty kick which he chipped in with ease.
But the Trojans, only using a rotation of 14 players for 100 minutes, didn’t have enough gas to stop Alvarez in the final 10 minutes. The Wildcats advance and the Trojans had their season come to an end.
“It’s a hard game to play Iron Trojan,” Dagen said. “But that’s what we had to do this season and for this game. Our guys played 20 extra minutes with just three substitutes. And one was an injury with our full back going down. Ethan (Dupree) stepped in and did a great job and guys like Jake Hawkins. Our young guys stepped up.”
But for the seniors like Van Emelen, the game ended their Trojan careers.
“We didn’t give up and that was the important thing,” he said. “No one on our team gave up and that’s all I can ask for in my last game at Millington. We didn’t give up and that showed the heart of everyone on this team.
“We worked hard,” Van Emelen concluded. “I don’t think it was a bad loss, but it’s still a loss. But we played our hearts out.”
The Trojans ended the season at 6-7-2. Dagen said the record is further evidence of how competitive and bittersweet the 2013 campaign was for his team.
“When you start out tying Brighton,” he concluded. “We dominated that game, up 2-0 with less than 3 minutes left. That’s when they scored their first goal and we let them tie the game. That pretty much sums up our season.”