FARMINGDALE — Brad Clark had exactly 17 minutes of experience as a varsity goalkeeper, all of which came Thursday afternoon at Hall-Dale High School. It was all he needed.

The Carrabec sophomore made a key save in the 80th minute on Hall-Dale’s Brendan McKenzie, and the Cobras made sure the effort stood up in a scoreless Mountain Valley Conference boys soccer draw with the Bulldogs at Simmons Field.

“Bradley stepped up. That save right there was a game-changer,” Carrabec coach Paul Vicneire said. “When I saw (McKenzie) one-on-one with him in the six, I thought it was over right there. Game, set, match. Kudos to him — not a minute of varsity experience. Ever.”

Clark’s emergency insertion into the game came in the 63rd minute, when senior starter Seth Padelford took a blow to the head while coming off his line to field a low cross into his 18-yard box. With two prior concussions, coaches and trainers erred on the side of caution and pulled Padelford from the game for further evaluation.

Once Clark was in, the game seemed to have enough in it to produce a goal. Hall-Dale junior Tyler Nadeau found himself in the middle of a trio of chances in both regulation and extra time that the Bulldogs (8-3-2) were unable to capitalize on.

“It was pinballing around in the 18 a couple of times, but we just couldn’t get a foot on it,” Nadeau said. “If we went a little harder in the first half, we probably could have had a few more chances on goal.”

The draw left a slightly bitter taste on the collective palate of the Bulldogs, who find themselves embroiled in a battle atop the Class C South standings for playoff seeding.

“Obviously we wanted to win, but we’ll take the tie and the points,” Hall-Dale head coach Andy Haskell said. “We had the better chances and their goalie made a few nice saves. I knew it would be a tight game. They’re disciplined and they play well, but we just were not anticipating as well as I would have liked as we’re getting ready for the playoffs.”

“We’ll take it, but we were really expecting to win today,” Nadeau said. “It could be the difference between a two-seed and four-seed. We really wanted to win today.”

On the other side of midfield, the Cobras were thrilled to come out of hostile territory with a split of the points. Classified as a Class B team because of its merger with Madison for this season, Carrabec tried a number of lineup changes on Thursday that Vicneire hopes can help his side compete in the Class B South tournament. At 8-2-3, the Cobras entered the day at No. 4 in the region.

“They definitely threw some heavy numbers at us, but I thought we stayed composed,” Vicneire said. “To come out of here with a tie, after they beat us 3-1 the last time, that’s definitely a huge improvement for us.”

The match got off to an extremely conservative start for both sides, with the opening 40 minutes producing little anxiety on either bench. Each team was content to let the other possess the ball in the midfield while keeping its own defensive shape intact,

“That’s what both of our teams are designed to do,” said Carrabec captain Paul Kaplan, who along with fellow senior Dustin Crawford provided the Cobras’ midfield backbone.

“We are possession teams. We’re both trying to keep it within our half until they make a mistake, and then we can progress and keep progressing as they make mistakes. Against good teams like this, they don’t make mistakes.”

An ill-advised cross-field goal kick from Padelford in the 33rd minute created a small spell of sustained pressure for Hall-Dale, the most sustained pressure either side could say it enjoyed in the half. Ultimately, the Cobras were able to clean up the mess and carry on.

The match started to open up as it neared the hour mark in the second half, with Nadeau offering a one-time turn that forced Padelford (nine saves) to make a diving save at the left post. Four minutes later, Nadeau pinched off the right sideline, taking possession and carrying to the end line. His cross into traffic forced Padelford well off his line to corral the ball.

Carrebec nearly snatched victory in the 77th minute, when Crawford collected a service from Jacob Atwood on his feet at the top of the box. Crawford beat his defender to the left and then fired a low, bending drive that missed the far post by inches.

“When you have a young group, some days they come ready to play and some days they don’t,” Haskell said. “They know how hard they have to work. It’s about whether they want to go out and make that commitment — and it can’t be just five or six guys. It’s got to be 11.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC


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