The Tigers sure made things exciting for the senior night crowd on Friday at Tigers Stadium, mounting a late second-half comeback to earn a 3-3 draw with White County to close out the regular season.
After White County (8-8-2) scored early in the second half to go up 3-0, things looked bleak for the Tigers (5-7-1). Then, with just over 30 minutes left in the April 20 game, everything changed.
Senior Sam Hoppal sent a corner kick into the box where fellow senior Nathan Blythe was able to get a head on the ball to put it in the back of the net to put Dawson County on the scoreboard.
Even with the goal, down 3-1 was still a tough hill to climb but momentum had shifted. The field was suddenly tilted in the Tigers favor and with a little over 17 minutes remaining, senior Dennis Pyetsukh received a pass from the midfield that sprung him past the defense. One-on-one with the goalkeeper, Pyetsukh made a move, took the ball wide and put it past the outstretched arms of the keeper.
Now only down 3-2 and with the crowd roaring, the Tigers had chance after chance but just couldn’t get that tying goal. That is, of course, until Pyetsukh drove the ball down the left side of the field. Just before three defenders could converge on his position, Pyetsukh took a shot and powered the ball through the goalkeeper’s legs. As the ball slowly rolled across the goal line, the White County goalkeeper looked on in despair while the crowd erupted.
“Any time (Pyetsukh’s) in the game, whether he’s the one making the plays or he’s drawing the attention away from someone else so they can make a play,” Coach Derek Waters said. “He’s just a game-changer.”
The senior had tied it, 3-3, on senior night but there was still 8:38 to go. Dawson County suddenly had a chance to win, and the Tigers almost did.
Pyetsukh couldn’t be stopped as he once again found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper. This time, however, the keeper did the only thing that could stop Pyetsukh at that moment. He tripped him. It looked like it was going to be a penalty shot for the Tigers with under five minutes left, but the official ruled that the fouled occurred just outside of the penalty box.
Blythe took the free kick and sailed it just over the crossbar. Despite the 3-3 score, it felt like a win for the Tigers and provided some momentum heading into the playoffs after their 2-1 loss at East Hall earlier in the week.
“To me that’s one of the biggest tests they’ve passed all season long,” Waters said. “When (White County) scored that last goal and we were down 3-0, I was really worried and really afraid that we were just going to kind of give up…I’m really proud that they didn’t give up. They continued to put forth a high level of effort to bounce back.”