Describing a contest as “evenly matched” is often an overworked sports cliché. Not so Tuesday night’s boys’ soccer contest between Rapid City rivals Central and Stevens.
The two teams shared identical records (4-1-1), and had played the same teams to nearly identical scores. Both teams drew with Sioux Falls Roosevelt 1-1, defeated Sioux Falls O’Gorman by identical 2-1 margins, and had nearly outcomes against Pierre (Central 4-0, Stevens 3-0) and top-ranked Aberdeen (Central fell 3-1, Stevens 4-2).
Played out that way, too, as Rapid City Central rallied from a 1-0 halftime deficit to upend Stevens 3-2 in a match that went down to the proverbial wire at Sioux Park Stadium.
The Raiders had taken the lead at the 18:15 mark of the first half, a goal by Syd Kickland off a nice cross from Magnus Clausen, though the momentum changed quickly early in the second (35:25) when Cobbler senior Nick Glass tapped in a rebound to knot the score at a goal apiece.
And four minutes later, Central co-captain Ryder Gary headed in a cross from Christian Duque-Cintron to give the Cobblers a 2-1 advantage.
“It was just a really great ball from and I was able to hit it with my head and it went in perfectly,” Gary said. “It was just a great play by Sawyer and a big boost for our team.”
In the first of two penalty kicks in the game—one for each team--Raider Magnus Clausen converted to draw the Raiders even at 2-2, but Gary once again came to the Cobbler rescue booting home a goal inside the far post from long range right.
“The crowd just got to me and I went for the far post and it went in,” Gary explained. “To win tonight just feels awesome. Probably the best feeling I’ve ever had playing soccer.”
A couple of half time adjustments led to the Cobbler’s second half onslaught said Central coach Joe Sabrowski.
“Possession and increased pace and handle the ball better under pressure,” Sabrowski said. “We were coughing up the ball and passing it away too many times in the first half. And we changed a few guys around and put some speed up top and that changed the dynamic of play.”
Perhaps making the game all the sweeter for Central, the win ended a considerable Cobbler drought in the cross-town series.
“It’s been since 2013 I believe that we have beaten Stevens so it’s a great win for us,” Coach Sabrowski said. “I knew the boys could do it but they had to prove it themselves by beating a good team and they did that tonight. I’ve been waiting for them to come alive and get around the corner.”
For the Raiders, a tough loss said Coach Dave Sharp but one in which his team battled only to fall to a team that maybe wanted it a little more on this night.
“It’s such an emotional came and though we played a great first half we knew they would come out in the second half with a lot of energy,” Sharp said. “And so it was a question if we could withstand that pressure the game give Central credit. They got a quick one on us and put us on our heels. We some chances to tie it up but it just wasn’t our day.”
Both squads take to the road this Saturday with Central (5-1-1) traveling to Spearfish to meet the Spartans in a 1 p.m. start at Black Hills Power Sports Complex, and Stevens (4-2-1) facing off against Sturgis as 3 p.m.