THE PLAINS - Playing in afternoon temperatures in the mid-90s, with the sun beating down and raising the temperature on Rutter Field's new synthetic surface to over 100 degrees, the Marietta High boys soccer team rallied to defeat Athens 4-3 to remain undefeated on the season at 4-0.
"Always good to get a win on the road, and always a satisfying feeling to beat Athens," said MHS head coach Todd Morris. "We were really tested us today. They had good size and really exposed some of our weaknesses. They were quick to counter us and we were very vulnerable in transition, which we will address during training."
Marietta opened the scoring with Brent Huck getting his first goal of the season with an assist from senior co-captain Tim Grosel in the 26th minute. Athens tied the match with only 1:05 remaining in the half on a goal from Wesley Thompson. The score was the first that the Tigers have allowed this season.
MHS regained the advantage after the break, with Jacob Holdren knocking in a loose ball in front of the goal for his first career varsity goal in the 46th minute. Over the remaining 20 minutes of the game, with players battling the heat and fatigue, the two rivals took turns seizing the lead and the momentum.
Athens evened the count again with 18:45 remaining when Patrick Crist converted on a penalty kick, and then riding that wave of emotion grabbed a 3-2 lead just 2 minutes later as the pressure on goal lead to an own goal by the Tigers.
Two-time defending South East District Champion Marietta battled back against its district foe, knotting the score at three when Grosel converted a PK past Bulldog goal-keeper Yonry Zhu after an AHS handball in the penalty area with just over eight minutes remaining in the game. Zhu finished with 11 saves for the Bulldogs.
The Tigers completed the comeback when Brennan Uhrig assisted Huck on his second goal of the match at the 6:39 mark in the match. Athens had several more surges into the Marietta territory, but the MHS defense was up to the challenge and came away with a hard fought victory. The win was the first for the Tigers in Athens since 2007, and Marietta now leads the all-time series against the Bulldogs 32-21-9.
Jacob Hupp had a career high 12 saves in goal for the Tigers.
"Very proud of the boys for battling through the weather and fatigue and pulling out this win," Morris said. "It would have been very easy to get demoralized giving up the lead on a PK and an own goal, but we would not quit and kept battling. "We learned a lot about our team and each other today. We got a great game from Hupp in goal - he really stepped up and made some great saves to keep us in the match."
Marietta is scheduled to action Tuesday with an ECOL match at Cambridge.