In a rematch of last year’s 4A South Region final, High Point and Bowie high schools once again played two overtime periods and were deadlocked after 100 minutes.
This time, however, no penalty kicks would be taken as the 2012 regular-season meeting between two strong Prince George’s County boys’ soccer teams ended in a 0-0 draw.
Both the Bulldogs (5-3-1) and Eagles (5-2-1) created limited chances to score in a back-and-forth game Monday dominated by solid midfield and backline play.
Bowie beat High Point in penalty kicks last season to advance to the state semifinals and eventually won the state championship against Walter Johnson, but couldn’t find its scoring touch in the afternoon match at High Point.
“It was a defensive game, you could say. We’ve got to come out harder next time,” said Bowie center back Bonoventure Akinlosotu, who scored the game-tying goal in last year’s state championship match.
Despite neither team cracking the scoreboard, the game provided plenty of action.
In the 72nd minute, High Point midfielder Albert Granados was handed his second yellow card. Under new High School Federation rules implemented this season, High Point was not allowed to sub a player for Granados, so the Eagles played the following 28 minutes with 10 men.
Bowie also finished the match with 10 men, however, when Julien Baxter was shown a straight red in the 93rd minute for retaliating after he was taken out on a dangerous tackle by High Point defender Denis Robles.
“It was really physical, two reds, four yellows, but physical games are fun. That’s what we like in high school, to teach you how to play at the next level,” Akinlosotu said.
On three separate occasions, High Point strikers found themselves one-on-one with Bowie goalkeeper Brady Mazzei. Once, Jairo Martinez missed wide left after a long run. In the 15th minute, Urich Ndip struck a ball directly at Mazzei that Bowie’s ’keeper dove at and steered clear with his feet. It was the most difficult save either goalie made on the day as scoring chances were few and far between. Ndip also pushed an attempt wide left in the 95th minute.
“We had a couple chances that we squandered. It was an evenly-matched game,” High Point coach Michael Holt said. “Bowie has a very good team. We wanted to win.”
Bowie’s best chance of the afternoon came in the ninth minute. Forward Melvin Otoo timed his run perfectly onto a long ball played from the back third and sprinted by High Point’s defenders -- one of the Bulldogs’ few onsides runs on the day. Eagles goalkeeper Jonathan Claros came well off his line in an attempt to challenge but Otoo beat him to the ball. The Bowie senior chipped the ball high in the air from roughly 30 yards out and it appeared it would bounce into the goal, but the surface at High Point was so hard the ball hopped over the crossbar.
The Bulldogs didn’t record a shot on goal, but attempted 12 shots in total while High Point put four on goal and attempted 14. The Eagles won seven corners compared to Bowie’s four as the Bulldogs did a good job of limiting 16-goal scorer Edwin Claros’ touches.
“We had to strap him up. We put our stopper on him to make sure he couldn’t move. If he couldn’t receive the ball, he couldn’t do anything with it,” Akinlosotu said.
Despite owning a winning record, Bowie coach Richard Kirkland knows this year’s club is a work in progress.
“We’re struggling trying to find the right combinations,” he said. “We’ve got a couple defenders we’ve been looking at to see if it’s stronger with some new faces back there. Our midfield’s been struggling. And we’ve been struggling to find somebody up front to put it in. That’s one, two and three strikes.”
High Point 0, Bowie 0
Bowie (5-3-1) 0 0 0 0 — 0
High Point (5-2-1) 0 0 0 0 — 0