MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — With so many similarities between the Baylor and Montgomery Bell Academy soccer teams, their Division II-AA state semifinal match was going to come down to which team made a big play.
It was MBA’s Big Red.
Andrew Conwell scored on a header in the second overtime period, and MBA advanced to the state title match with a 2-1 victory over the defending state champions.
The Red Raiders (14-4-3) were the ones who took the early lead, when Kyle Johnston headed the ball to Ramsey Seagle, who had an easy look at the goal and netted a shot in the eighth minute. It was a difference from normal Big Red matches, where they take control of games with early goals. That was the case when MBA (14-0-1) defeated Baylor in April.
“We didn’t think we played well the last time,” Baylor coach Curtis Blair said. “We were flat, but we wanted to go into the half either tied or ahead. We got that first goal and were able to create some more chances after that one.”
The lead stayed intact until the second half, when Jonah Rappuhn scored on a header to tie the match.
“We didn’t deal with their long ball well,” MBA coach Giles Cheevers said. “At halftime we had to regroup, but in the second half I thought we came out and competed. We showed our true colors tonight.”
The match remained tight — and chippy, as multiple yellow cards were issued. Baylor had a couple of great opportunities with the match tied, as Seagle had a header that he pushed just wide. Johnston and Robert Stagmaier also created some opportunities late.
Yet, in the 93rd minute, it was Conwell who sprang free on a corner kick and jumped over two Baylor defenders for what turned out to be the winning goal.
“You can’t teach speed and height,” Blair said.
The Baylor senior class finishes their careers with three straight trips to the final four, and the 2012 title.
“I’m so proud of the seniors,” Blair said. “Their intensity and effort helped turn around this program. They had some great careers.”
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6311. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.