For every minute the game pressed on — first through regulation, then overtime, then double overtime — the crowd standing along the sideline at Col. Zadok Magruder High School's practice field inched closer and closer to the pitch.
Bristling with anticipation, for the game-ending goal and for action, the fans were warned multiple times by the referee to back up. After all, the space was cramped to begin with, smaller than the size of a regulation field. The boys' soccer teams played there, however, because a weekend deluge of rain rendered the main stadium field unavailable.
Ultimately, fans of both Gaithersburg and Magruder left Tuesday afternoon's match wanting more, as did the rival clubs after they played to a scoreless draw in two overtimes.
“We play in the same division. This is our rival,” said Colonels coach Juan Gomez. “This was like a final for us. If we beat them, we move up.”
As it was, both the Trojans (7-2-1) and Colonels (7-4-1) each earned a point out of the result and continue to chase Clarksburg (7-1-1) in the 4A West Division.
“Credit to them that they kept us from playing how we wanted to play and credit to us for not allowing them to play how they wanted to play,” said first-year Gaithersburg coach Matt Bowling.
Indeed, it was a disjointed affair as neither club was able to maintain possession for extended stretches and pure scoring chances were minimal on the picturesque field situated atop a hill behind the school's campus.
The smaller and bumpier pitch, very well could have played a role in the choppiness of the match. Especially for Magruder, which features a lot of speed on the flanks. Aiding a bit of Magruder's sluggishness could have been the fact that the Colonels played Monday evening in a 2-1 victory against Thomas S. Wootton.
“Small field, tired legs,” said Magruder midfielder Bryan Argueta. “I think both teams missed a lot of chances, but we didn't play our own game. We didn't play as a team.”
The Colonels' best scoring opportunity came in the 35th minute when senior Edgard Cruz Martinez ripped a shot from 25 yards out that banged off the crossbar. The shot had Gaithersburg goalkeeper Cristian Reyes — who otherwise was rock solid — beat, but just nicked the post and bounced away. Magruder sophomore forward Jose Ramos was dangerous at times, hitting one off the side netting in the first overtime and generating a handful of other attempts, but none slipped by Reyes.
For Gaithersburg, forward Victor Ovelar-Vazquez's first half shot nearly beat Magruder goalkeeper Frank Valladares and forward Gustavo Garcia came close to finishing a number of chances. No opportunity was better, perhaps, than midfielder Victor Hernandez' 30-yard blast that forced Valladares to make a diving stop to his left in the first overtime session.
“I'd be lying if I said they weren't a little disappointed they didn't earn the three points,” Bowling said. “I wish we could have had a little more flow to the game, then there might have been more goal-scoring opportunities. But overall it was fun. It was tense.”
Last season, Gaithersburg crushed Magruder in their regular-season meeting, 4-1, only to bow out to the Colonels in penalty kicks in the opening round of the 4A West Region playoffs, 4-3 (4-3). Whether or not they'll have the chance to play again this season remains to be seen.
Gaithersburg 0, Col. Zadok Magruder 0 (2OT)
Gaithersburg (7-2-1) 0 0 0 0 — 0
Col. Zadok Magruder (7-4-1) 0 0 0 0 — 0