MONMOUTH — An early-to-midseason showdown between two of the best boys soccer teams in the Mountain Valley Conference lived up to its billing Saturday, but the only thing that was missing was a winner.

But for visiting Hall-Dale, that was OK.

“It was a very, very hard-fought game, and I was happy with the result,” Bulldogs coach Jesse Rowe said.

Rowe’s team mounted a second-half comeback, answering back when Monmouth went up by two goals, then tying it with five minutes left in what ended up being a 3-3 draw after two overtimes.

“I’ll give them credit, they played really hard, they came back when it could have gotten a little ugly for them,” Mustangs coach Joe Fletcher said. “They battled back and didn’t give up.”

Fletcher’s own team had to battle back early, after Akira Warren gave the Bulldogs (5-0-1) a 1-0 lead just 13 minutes into the game. Hall-Dale’s only shot on goal of the first half came from Warren, whose shot in a busy box went under Mustangs goalie Brock Bates.

“That first goal, I really wasn’t too concerned about giving that goal up,” Fletcher said. “Not that a coach wants to fall behind, but early in the year you like to see what you have for character. We fell behind at Oak Hill, we fell behind today, and we battled back.”

The Mustangs tied the game 22 minutes in when Cody Michaud trapped the rebound of Cam Armstrong’s deflected shot before taking a touch and beating Bulldogs goalie Sam Sheaffer.

Monmouth took the lead less than six minutes later when Hayden Fletcher dribbled to the top of the box and fired a shot inside the left post.

Despite trailing, Rowe said he was “very, very confident” in his team at halftime.

“The boys that I have in this program are great soccer players and they work. They did it together as a group, and I told them we had the opportunity, and they took advantage of it,” Rowe said. “I would have liked to squeak one more in, but anytime you come to Monmouth Academy and get a result …”

Monmouth went ahead 3-1 less than 14 minutes into the second half when Fletcher froze Sheaffer with a shot just inside the box, but Warren answered for Hall-Dale less than two minutes later by beating a charging Bates.

“The Warren kid keeps coming at you,” Joe Fletcher said.

“He’s been big, but I can’t point him out over any of the players,” Rowe said. “That was hard-fought, that was a team (result). Those guys get the credit because they score the goals.”

Warren factored into the tying goal as well, though he was denied by the crossbar on his shot. Camden Adams was there for the rebound, however, and poked it in before Bates could recover.

The game went to overtime, where Monmouth nearly won it in the first minute of the extra session. Michaud’s 30-yard free kick found the head of Armstrong and was heading toward the top of the goal, but Sheaffer made a leaping one-handed save.

That was the Mustangs’ only shot on goal in either of the two five-minute overtimes. Bates made a pair of double-overtime saves on long Ian Stebbins shots in the second overtime.

“I thought Sam Shaeffer came up huge and made a couple saves. Last year we left this field with one loss … and Sam had a tough day, and I know that’s been on his mind for the entire year,” Rowe said. “I’m very proud of my keeper, I’m very proud of all my boys.

“I’m a very proud coach today.”

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