September 17, 2019

By Scott Williams

STEVENS POINT – The stage was set for the kind of dramatic ending Hollywood can only dream about in the latest movie thriller.

D.C. Everest’s goal scoring machine Tamirat Knutson was standing over the ball with 2 seconds left in regulation Tuesday night.

The Evergreens had just been awarded a free kick just outside the SPASH penalty box. The wall was set up by the Panthers.

If Knutson could put the ball in the back of the net, the Evergreens would be able to celebrate a thrilling comeback tie.

Knutson saw a small opening inside the near post, but his shot went just wide and DCE was forced to deal with a 2-1 loss at the hands of SPASH at Scaffidi Field.

“We just needed more time, but that’s the way it is,” said Evergreens coach Josh Roloff. “We have to come out the way we ended is the big thing.”

Knutson ignited the comeback bid after the Evergreens dug themselves a 2-0 hole.

He picked up a loose ball in the penalty box and sent a blast off the foot of SPASH keeper Spencer Banks and into the back of the net at 66:38.

Banks came up huge late in the first half when he stopped a penalty kick by DCE’s Triton Schmidt with 34 seconds left on the clock.

Schmidt has been the Evergreens’ designated penalty kick player all season, so there was no thought by Roloff to go with anyone else.

“He’s been our pk taker all year. We run that in practice. We have faith in (Schmidt),” the DCE coach said. “I think maybe the nerves of the moment got to him a little bit. He’s usually a little bit more sure on those.”

SPASH carried the momentum from that save, and an animated halftime speech from coach Derek Bell, to get on the scoreboard first.

Owen Williams received a pass Thomas Huspeni just outside the DCE box. He showed great patience and turned and beat DCE keeper Matt Schafer to the far post at 48:04.

Williams would strike again less than 6 minutes later. This time the sophomore forward tucked home a loose ball after a corner kick to stake the Panthers to a 2-0 lead.

SPASH had a number of scoring chances in the opening half, but failed to finish the job. A not so subtle reminder by their coach seemed to rectify the problem.

“There was a little bit of passion I was wanting to see us elevate to,” Bell said. “Our guys were trying to be a little too careful. I just wanted them to take more risk. Do more what we can do.

“Whatever is available you have to take and then your chances (of scoring) is better. You have to figure it out.”

Once Knutson got the Evergreens on the scoreboard, the possession and intensity of play tilted to them.

They did a better job of creating some better scoring chances. However, DCE struggled to put the ball on net and force Banks to make a save.

Even if he makes a stop, there are opportunities for rebounds to pounce on but that never materialized.

“”It’s always a fun chess match with Derek,” Roloff mused. “We came out pretty flat today and they made us pay. It shouldn’t take two goals (down) to light the fire. It’s hard to climb out of a hole against a good team like point.”

There is no time to lick any wounds for the Evergreens.

With their second consecutive Wisconsin Valley Conference setback in the books, they need to find their groove in a hurry.

That will come as early as Thursday when DCE travels to Wisconsin Rapids for another road date in need of three points.

The Evergreens can ill-afford to fall too far behind conference leading Wausau West.

“Thursday’s another game and we’re going to come ready to play,” Roloff said. “We’ve got to get some wins here on the board,especially with West on the train their on. And Point is no slouch. They’re going to be up near the top.”

D.C. Everest  0  1  –  1

SPASH  0  2  –  2

Second half: 1. Owen Williams (Thomas Huspeni) 48:04; 2. SPASH, Williams, 53:51; 3. DCE, Tamirat Knutson, 66:38.

Saves: D.C. Everest (Matt Schafer) 7, SPASH (Spencer Banks) 3.