With the wind whipping past them, rain beating down on their faces, and just 45 seconds left in regulation, the members of the Castleton men’s soccer team watched with anticipation.
As the ball rushed toward the far post, Dameon Young hustled toward the net and redirected the ball with his head, sending it past Husson’s diving keeper.
Young took off, leading a group of Spartans to midfield, where he was tackled by his teammates in celebration.
“When I saw the ball hit the side netting, my first thought was that I missed, but then I see the net caught the ball on the inside, and I was shocked.”
“I really couldn’t believe that, out of all the people, I put the ball in the back of the net because I’m one of the smallest guys on the pitch,” Young said.
Castleton played tough defense for the final 45 seconds, ensuring the 1-0 victory and breaking the spirit of its top North Atlantic Conference foe.
“It’s a huge win for us,” head coach John Werner said. “I don’t want to be too stoic. I want to celebrate it for what it is, and that’s a big win. But boy that was a long 48 seconds,” he said with a laugh.
Young agreed with his coach about the victory.
“It is a huge win for us,” he said. ” It put us at the top of the tables in the NAC, and it sent a message to the other teams in the conference.”
The Spartans and Eagles played a very evenly matched and aggressive game for the entire 90 minutes, which impressed Werner.
“I thought the guys played well,” Werner said. “I thought we kicked the ball around well. To win it late like that, though, I just thought we played real well.”
The only downfall in the Eagles’ game was that they were overly aggressive.
Husson was called for 18 fouls during the game, including two yellow cards, compared to Castleton’s 12 fouls.
The last foul of the game came with 48 seconds left, and it resulted in a yellow card for Husson’s Greg Dawson and the free kick that led to the game-winning touch by Young.
Young has quietly become a force to be reckoned with for Castleton. The freshman has four goals and six assists on the season, and he is trailing only the team’s leading scorer, Trevor Kotrady, who has 10 goals.
“[Dameon] is a great little player,” Werner said. “Sometimes we forget he’s only a freshman because he is just kind of this little general out there at times where he plays. He had been great early, then had a few nicks, but today I thought he played like he was playing earlier and played very well for us.”
Nate Koenemann had seven saves in the win and played so well that Werner referred to him as “the man of the match.”
“He just was very steady in goal,” Werner said. ” We knew about their long [flip] throw, and we knew that was going to be a factor in the game. We thought he did real well with it. And the back four were great with helping him today.”
Werner was also quick to praise other members of the team for their performances.
“Tanner [LeCuyer] had a good game, and [Zac] Conlogue played a good game too,” Werner said. “[Jacob] Ferry, our captain, has been sick and he ran out of gas, so Zac came in for him, and we thought [Ferry] would go back in, but Zac played so well.”
Young also praised the team.
“It was the team effort that won the goal not the individual goals,” he said.
Castleton’s second game of the weekend, against NAC opponent Maine Maritime, was also a nail-biter, ending in a 1-1 tie after two overtimes. With Castleton’s tie, the team moves to 8-5-2 overall and 5-1-1 in the NAC, giving the team second place in the conference standings.
Husson’s 2-0 win over Green Mountain on Oct. 16 moves them into first place in the NAC with a 6-1 record.
Castleton will host NAC opponent Johnson State on Oct. 19 at 6:30 p.m. before finishing the regular season with a NAC game at Colby-Sawyer on Oct. 25.