Eagles rally for 4-2 win
By By Jeff Byrd/The Meridian Star
Nov, 17, 2001
TYLER, Texas Taking advantage of a second half red card and sharp play from mid-fielder Garthfield Whyte, the Meridian Community College Eagles will be playing on Soccer Sunday here at the NJCAA Men's Division National Tournament.
Whyte scored two goals and assisted on another rallying Meridian from a 2-1 deficit in its consolation bracket game with Louisburg, N.C. The 4-2 comeback win here Friday afternoon at Pat Hartley Field places Meridian in the fourth place game on Sunday at 9 a.m.
The Eagles, now 18-3-3, will face Schoolcraft College, Mich., who downed seven-time national champion Mercer County 5-4 in overtime in Friday's first game.
Meridian Head Coach Steve Clements was extremely proud of the grit his team showed in the second half. The Eagles saw another 1-0 lead vanish following two straight goals by Louisburg.
The turning point came early in the second half as the Eagles went on the attack in an effort to draw even.
Mahlon Sullivan had sent a high kick wide. It was the ninth missed shot at goal to that point for the Eagles.
Meridian kept pushing and Sullivan got free only to be dragged down from behind by Louisburg's Jay Camp who had a firm grasp on Sullivan's No. 9 white jersey. Camp was red-carded which called for his ejection.
The immediate result for Meridian was a penalty kick from 10 yards out. Whyte got the honors drilling a hard-shot into the goal tying the game at 2-2 with 41:47 to play.
With a man advantage, Meridian continued to attack. Kevin King, Chris McAilliy, Tyler Talkington and Sullivan all had shots get either blocked or go wide. Louisburg sweeper Andrew Butler did an excellent job of thwarting Meridian's advances.
His tackle of Whyte following a break-away, kept the score tied with 29 minutes to play.
Louisburg nearly had a go-ahead goal but the score was nullified because of an offside by the Hurricanes.
Meridian went back on the attack and saw four goal chances thwarted. Whyte just missed on a low liner with 21 minutes left. Derron Cornwall and Talkington also missed wide.
Finally, with under 15 minutes to play, Meridian sweeper Cecil Noyce broke up a Louisburg threat with a long punt. A pass at mid-field got Whyte cleared on the break. He got a one-on-one with the Louisburg goalie, and this time booted through the go-ahead goal. Meridian led 3-2 with 14:43 left.
About four minutes later, McAilliy saw a strong shot from 30 yards out go off the high-bar. Louisburg responded with its final-best chance at a tie.
A header came up high on Meridian goalie Eric Stewart, but the Birmingham, Ala., sophomore made the play, fisting the ball above the post.
Meridian came back near the six-minute mark. Whyte controlled the pace and found Sullivan open on the right wing. This time, Sullivan came through with a 30-yard goal shot.
Up 4-2, Meridian kept control of the ball for the next four minutes. With two minutes to play, Clements cleared his bench. Back-up goalie Andy Greenhaw, the team's fourth sophomore, got in and made a save in the final minute.
Meridian grabbed a 1-0 lead off Sullivan's first goal of the day. The play came off a sequence which saw two earlier tries miss. King's rebounder bounced off the post, but Sullivan tracked it down and blasted one in from 30 yards with 33:54 left in the first half.
Louisburg answered with two straight goals following defensive breakdowns by Meridian. Michael Concalves scored both goals for the Hurricanes.
The first came with 23:24 left in the half on a 10-yarder. Stewart got turnaround on the play.
The second came with 6:24 remaining from 15 yards out off the right wing.
Jeff Byrd is a sports writer for the Meridian Star. He can be reached at 693-1551 or by e-mail at email@example.com.