published Saturday, April 26th, 2014

Baylor, McCallie play to scoreless tie

McCallie midfielder Tommy Ellis, 3, and Baylor defender Tim Linke, 11, go up for a corner kick Friday at McCallie School.
McCallie midfielder Tommy Ellis, 3, and Baylor defender Tim Linke, 11, go up for a corner kick Friday at McCallie School.
Photo by Erin O. Smith.

The latest chapter in the storied rivalry between Baylor and McCallie ended as a scoreless tie on the soccer field, but that does not mean it was short on action.

A calm first half came before a stormy second full of chances and yellow cards for both sides in the Division II-AA East/Middle battle.

"There's always something about the Baylor-McCallie matchup," McCallie coach Tony Meyers said. "It's a great environment, and I enjoy it. It's a war."

Baylor (11-3-1, 2-1-1) and the Blue Tornado traded blows with 33 minutes left to play, as a Baylor shot was saved by goalkeeper Ryan McGregor, which led to a McCallie counter. The Tornado quickly transitioned from defense into offense and Timi Coker was left with a chance he rocketed off the crossbar.

McCallie (7-3-3, 2-1-3) had another shot on goal saved by Baylor goalkeeper Colin Brewer before the Red Raiders created some chances of their own with corner kicks and set pieces resulting from fouls. However, the Blue Tornado defense limited the attack.

"We knew they were going to drop back, load up and do a good job of countering," Baylor coach Curtis Blair said. "We just couldn't get behind them."

The final 15 minutes of the match provided the fireworks, with both teams unable to convert chances. Red Raiders forward Lucas Baker streaked down the field and headed for the goal when he was tripped up by a Blue Tornado defender in what turned out to be a controversial non-call.

Baylor's players pleaded with the referee to no avail and Baker landed himself a yellow card, the first of three total between the teams.

"We just have to work on maintaining our composure when games get tight," Blair said. "We don't do a good job when we're being direct, and we were direct. We do better when we possess the ball and move it around."

After the yellow card, McCallie countered again, and Coker got another shot with seven to play. After a tough scramble by the goal, which left Brewer out of position, Coker sent a header toward the net, but the ball bounced high and again struck the crossbar.

"We know one another so well -- strengths, weaknesses and personnel -- so it's not necessarily strategy but capitalizing on mistakes," Meyers said. "Creating opportunities comes from a mistake and a counter. We made some adjustments and they worked."

The final opportunity of the match came off the foot of Red Raiders defender Rafael Gaglianone, who sent a powerful, bending ball toward the frame on a set piece with under two minutes to play. As it veered toward the left side, McGregor left his feet to make a diving save and salvage the tie.

"It was a typical region game," Blair said. "They're all tough."

Contact Idris Garcia at sports@timesfreepress.com

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