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BOYS SOCCER: Stars save their best for last

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BNL’s Zach Bradshaw weaves through traffic. Bradshaw scored three times, including the game winner with 1:23 left, as the Stars edged Brown County 4-3 on Monday afternoon.

Bradshaw posts hat trick,

BNL scores late goals

to edge Brown County

By Justin Sokeland

TheHHCSports.com

Down two goals with 20 minutes left might be the perfect time to panic. If any anxiety crept into Bedford North Lawrence’s collective mindset, it was discretely hidden.

Almost buried in their own muddy field, the Stars shook off the dirt on their grave and battled back from a 3-1 deficit to stun Brown County 4-3 on Monday afternoon. Zach Bradshaw capped his hat trick by booting home the game winner with 1:23 left.

BNL (6-4-1) dominated the final minutes, a complete reversal of the previous hour. The Eagles (6-3-1) shocked BNL with a goal in only 47 seconds, and they rode that momentum into the second half. Perhaps the Stars could play with the urgency that propelled the comeback a little sooner.

“That,” BNL coach Logan Jackson said, “was a little too close.”

After Hunter Cline got the Stars back to a one-goal hole with a shot from the left wing at 18:43, Bradshaw had the equalizer (12:35) and the go-ahead score. He settled a midfield pass and ripped a low liner into the left corner from 25 yards to force a 3-3 deadlock, then took a pass from Daniel Emery to deposit the final shot into the net.

BNL's Hunter Cline uses his body to shield the ball from a Brown County defender.

BNL’s Hunter Cline uses his body to shield the ball from a Brown County defender.

“When it started going back in the second half, we had play our game,” Bradshaw said. “We were like ‘This is possible. We can bring it back and win the game.'”

Where they got that idea, no one really knows. From the moment Ben Rygiel scored at 39:13 of the first half, the Eagles had the Stars in catch-up mode. Shots and passes were off target, and frustration was building.

“We came out flat again,” Jackson said. “We have to work on that. We’ve tried everything to get them ready to go, focused. We’re not physically ready to go.”

BNL pulled even at 5:43 when Bradshaw directed a header off a Cline pass for his first goal. But it didn’t last very long. The Eagles got a break when BNL goalie Nate Bartlett strayed too far away from the net and allowed a long pass to bounce over his head. Brown County’s Logan Fittz won the race to the ball for an easy goal at 2:41.

The Eagles extended their lead to 3-1 on Landon Cambridge’s goal (via a Fittz pass) with 28:02 left.

Cameron Anderson prepares to advance the ball during BNL's comeback victory.

Cameron Anderson prepares to advance the ball during BNL’s comeback victory.

“The boys played brilliantly,” BC coach Erich Nolan said. “We just couldn’t do it long enough. We made some mistakes and blew the lead. That’s how it goes sometimes.”

“We didn’t give up,” Jackson said. “We kept calm, we kept working and were able to come back. We gathered ourselves and were able to pull it off. We finally shifted the momentum to our side.”

As Brown County pulled back into a defensive mode to protect its advantage, the Stars started applying pressure.

“Moving, passing the ball, and talking,” Bradshaw explained. “It’s one of the things we really need to work on. We need to get that started in the first half.”

BNL will visit Owen Valley on Tuesday.