ADAMS, Mass. -- At Renfrew Field on Wednesday, it was a great night for soccer fans and a tough night for headline writers.
The season opener between the Hoosac Valley and Drury boys ended in a 1-1 tie that featured two dramatic changes to the storyline in the final 35 seconds.
With a minute left to go, the story was all about the resurgence of a Blue Devils program that won five games a year ago playing to a scoreless tie against a team that outscored it 6-2 in two 2013 meetings.
With 35 seconds left, it appeared Drury would go a step further, pulling off an upset win courtesy of Jeff Hancock's unassisted goal from the middle of the 18 after a last-minute corner kick opportunity.
But 24 seconds later, Hoosac's Khalil Kareh rewrote the ending yet again, curling a free kick from 35 yards out under the crossbar and over the outstretched hands of Drury keeper Brian Christian to save the point for the Hurricanes and leave Drury fans to think about what might have been.
"I might have practiced that in the summer a couple of times, and that's about it," Kareh said with a laugh.
"We just couldn't finish the whole game. We had a lot of chances, but we never ended up scoring. I had a couple of shots, David [Haley] did and Dante [Sandifer]. We just couldn't finish. The goalie had some nice saves.
"Then we got our chance, and I finished it."
Kareh said he was impressed at how disciplined Drury played in the back, and it is fair to say the Hurricanes as a group were surprised at how well the Devils played.
"My players were surprised, I would assume," Hoosac coach Camilo Bermudez said. "Because you could tell the first 15 minutes they realized this was going to be a tough game. Prior to this, we've taken care of business against Drury, but I could tell in the first 15 minutes they were like, 'Holy Moly, this is going to be a game.
"I wasn't surprised because [first-year Drury coach John Jacobbe] coached when I was a player, and his squads were always fit. They were mentally there. They were defensive. And he's a basketball coach, so he knows how to make substitutions and run set pieces. He got them organized. It was very impressive."
Good scoring opportunities were hard to come by for either side, but there was plenty of action in the middle of the field to keep the large crowd on both sidelines in the game.
Drury's defense was tested a couple of times in the middle of the first half. First, Jon Boland made a slide tackle at the top of the 18 after Christian was caught off his line. About seven minutes later, Christian came off his line again but this time succeeded in denying Sandifer on a counter attack.
Early in the second half, Sandifer had the best chance for either side to that point with a shot in transition that Christian denied. And with 15:30 left on the clock, Kareh had a try from outside the 18 that Christian saved for a Hoosac Valley corner kick.
Ten minutes later, Kareh nearly broke through on a run down the left wing in transition, but Drury eighth-grader Daniel Alvarez shut him down to keep it 0-0.
And the Blue Devils had their best opportunity to score in the run of play inside of three minutes. Connor Meehan sent Thane Preite on a run down the right wing, and Preite's cross into the box for Jonah Miles set up a dangerous chance for the midfielder. But he could not get a shot off in traffic.
Moments later, Drury earned a corner kick with 51 seconds left, and Jacobbe called a timeout to set up the play.
Colby Ells nearly handled the kick from the left-wing corner, but Hancock, crashing in from the right wing, alertly corralled the loose ball and fired a shot into the net. The goal -- which seemed very much like a game-winner -- touched off a wild celebration on the Drury sideline.
But the Hurricanes kept their heads up and their wits about them, generating the one more chance they needed to get the equalizer.
Afterward, Jacobbe took the blame for not having his team better prepared for the moment, but he was proud of the effort the Blue Devils put forth.
"They're gamers," he said. "As a coach, I like to build up the middle, and today we had a great goalie. Hopefully that will continue. He stepped up today, and that encourages me. My defensive line was outstanding.
"Our forwards need to create a little bit, but we have a lot of speed upfront. Our midfield battled because we played with three for the most part, and they had four. ... I am excited because the boys worked hard and played hard and gave everything they had. And I'm excited that I feel we can get better. I can get better as a coach, and they need to get better in practice and build on this tie.
"It was a disappointing tie because we had the 1-0 lead, but in the end it was one heck of a high school soccer game."