MIDDLETOWN — Fort Ann was 5 minutes, 23 seconds away from defending its state championship.
It would have had company at the top. Alfred-Almond and the Cardinals were tied 1-1 in the second overtime of the Class D final of the State Boys Soccer Tournament on Sunday. And in state finals, there are no penalty kicks after overtime.
The way things were going, the Cardinals would have been OK with a co-championship. But it wasn’t to be. Jake Johnston scored his second goal of the game in the 105th minute to give the Eagles a 2-1 victory at Middletown High School’s Faller Field.
It was Alfred-Almond’s first state title since the current format began in 1978. Fort Ann finished the year 21-1.
The loss ended a remarkable three-year run for Fort Ann. The Cards had won 44 consecutive games and had a 64-game unbeaten streak (including ties) that began after its 2-1, double-overtime loss to Chazy in the 2013 state semifinals.
“There are no words to describe it,” Fort Ann senior Tyler Mattison said. “It (stinks) being a senior and graduating and never going to be able to be coached by (the Fort Ann coaches) again. You know, I’ve had an awesome career, and for the other nine seniors, it’s heartbreaking, but we’ve got to look at it in a positive side and look what we’ve accomplished. There’s nothing to hang our heads about.”
Alfred-Almond (20-1-2) had the Cardinals playing defense most of the day. Fort Ann senior goalkeeper Jon Allen made 15 saves. Before Sunday, he had not had to make double-digit saves once this season.
The Eagles scored first 13:35 into the game. Cory Olix’s direct kick was a pass to a cutting Johnston, who kicked it to Allen’s right.
Fort Ann tied it on Mattison’s 26th goal of the season. Eagles goalie Dylan Griffin had punched out a crossed ball. Mattison gathered it and arced a shot from 25 yards out to the far right side of the net.
The second half and first overtime were all Alfred-Almond. Fort Ann showed a little more life in the second overtime before the game-winning goal.
“I felt confident once we spun ends again (and had the wind),” Fort Ann coach Rich McCabe said. “The whole second half we were into the wind, the whole first overtime. That’s why I felt good, thinking once we get to the second overtime, and just ... they’re a good, quality team.”
“It was a little different,” Mattison said of playing so much defense. “When you come down here, anything can happen. Alfred-Almond was tremendous today. On this big field, it probably played to their strength more. They’re more of a passing, look-for-angles team, and they could open us up a bit.”
Once again, Olix found Johnston cutting, and Johnston placed a roller to the far right of the net. Johnston said last year’s 2-1 state semifinal loss to Fort Ann was on everyone’s mind.
“There was a lot of revenge, a lot of revenge; for the seniors last year and especially for us today,” Johnston said. “Coach said, ‘just keep fighting, keep pushing.’ It was very frustrating, but it turned out OK in the end.”
Johnston scored both of his team’s goals in its 2-0 semifinal win Saturday.
“He is so dangerous,” McCabe said of Johnston. “He’s got unbelievable speed. That kid, he’s not even in the play and then all of a sudden he’s breaking in on goal.”
Fort Ann looked tired late in the second half and throughout the overtimes.
“We didn’t have a lot of legs. We had 11 days off with nothing, then we had to go back to back harder than heck.”
Class D State Final
Fort Ann (21-1) 1 0 0 0 — 1
Alfred-Almond (20-1-2) 1 0 0 1 — 2
First half: 1, Alfred-Almond, Jake Johnston (Cory Olix), 13:35. 2, Fort Ann, Tyler Mattison, 28:13.
Second half: None.
First overtime: None.
Second overtime: 3, Alfred-Almond, Jake Johnston (Cory Olix), 104:37.
Goalies-saves: Jon Allen (FA) 15. Dylan Griffin (A-A) 3.