Pats run past Raiders with furious finish

Pats run past Raiders with furious finish

Down early, Marion scored the game’s final four goals to beat Nettleton Towards the end of the first half, the Marion Patriots (4-5-1 overall, 3-4 6A/5A-3 Conference) found themselves trailing the Nettleton Raiders (5-3, 5-3) 2-0 before roaring back to score four unanswered goals and leave Nettleton with a 42 conference victory.

Though the scoreboard once read that the Patriots were trailing, Marion never felt it, according to Marion head coach Craig Smith.

“We honestly didn’t even feel like we were down,” Smith said. “At the end of the game we had kind of even forgotten that we were down at one point. We were just so focused on our game and doing what we had to do to win.”

Parker Holland got the ball rolling for the Patriots, scoring Marion’s first goal on a penalty kick to cut the Raider’s lead in half, 2-1, at the halftime break.

After that Marion’s All-State kicker and future Henderson State Reddie Bradford Doherty took over. Doherty found the back of the net on the Patriots’ next two goals, giving Marion a one goal, 3-2, lead.

Good execution of keeping the ball in the midfield and connecting on quick passes allowed the energy to shift to the Marion side and eventually allow the Patriots to take the lead, according to Smith.

“It was just kind of a momentum thing,” Smith said. “It was almost like it was the first time they were really playing together as a team for an entire game. It was momentum. We just kept going and the goals just came.”

Holland then ended the match the same way he started it for the Patriots, booting through another score. As the clock ran down and Marion leading 3-2, Holland put his foot into a free kick from the corner of the field which sailed about 20 yards and into the top corner of the Nettleton goal.

Blanketing the Raiders in the second half, Marion goalie Riley Barns finished the night with 16 saves and his most impressive game of the season, according to Smith.

“I’d say it was the best game he’s played all year,” Smith said.

As the regular season nears an end and the beginning of the district tournament looms, Marion found themselves on a three-game conference winning streak following the victory over Nettleton. With a 5-3 record, Nettleton also represents the best win-lose team which the Patriots have defeated, further proof that the Patriots are trending in the right direction.

“It’s a huge confidence boost,” Smith said. “From the beginning of the year, we’ve believed that we could beat anybody or play with anybody. But when you actually accomplish it, it’s a whole new level of confidence.”

With the Marion victory, the Patriots and the Raiders split the regular-season series, 1-1.

Nettleton bested Marion 3-1 in their first matchup on March 6th.

“We have a lot more experience now,” Smith said. “We’ve had a lot of time to get our kinks worked out, figure out our formation, positioning and yea it made a difference.”

Photo by Collins Peeples

By Collins Peeples