In front of a raucous, standing-room-only crowd, the Hilltoppers (6-3-1, 2-1-0) stood toe to toe with the Tribe (10-2-1, 4-0-0) for the first 10 minutes of the contest. In the early going, Science Hill moved the ball forward and dictated play.
But the tide turned quickly.
In the 15th minute, D-B center back Zack Feathers launched a free kick from just inside the midfield stripe. Science Hill goalkeeper Daniel Adelman misjudged the flight of the ball and as it passed by his outstretched hands, the ball hit a Hilltoppers defender and deflected into the open goal.
Three minutes later, D-B’s Seth Douthat took a perfect pass from teammate Evan Fenyves and drilled the ball into the back of the Science Hill net.
Now down 2-0, the ’Toppers were back on their heels.
Sheldon Menya gave the Tribe a stunning 3-0 lead with a brilliant free kick in the 31st minute.
“The bottom line is we just didn’t show up,” said Science Hill coach Brandon Kind. “We let D-B catch the early momentum and just couldn’t catch up.”
Cole Greer gave the Hilltoppers some hope when he scored in the 34th minute, cutting the deficit to 3-1.
But the damage had been done.
D-B had 13 shots in the opening half, including six on goal.
After halftime, the ’Toppers, sensing the urgency of their situation, went into overdrive. They had seven shots on goal in the final 40 minutes of play.
Despite the persistent attacks, Science Hill could not find the net. Time after time, the ’Toppers were thwarted by D-B goalkeeper Preston Mercer.
Mercer made five spectacular second-half saves to preserve the win for his team.
“We knew Science Hill would come out strong in the second half,” he said. “They had some good attempts. I just tried to do what I could to help the team.”
D-B coach Chris Woods extolled Mercer’s efforts.
“I wouldn’t trade him for any keeper in the state,” Woods said. “He commands his area well and took the threats off those shots.”
Another crucial element for the Tribe was Feathers moving from his normal midfield position to center back to fill in for some injured teammates.
“That was a big key for us,” Woods said. “He came to me and volunteered to make the move. He did an outstanding job back there for us.”
Jorge De Gyves put D-B up 4-1 on a penalty kick in the 48th minute. Austin Pate headed the ball into the goal off a corner kick from Jeremy Horton for a 5-1 advantage in the 72nd minute.
It was a good win for the Tribe in their storied rivalry with the Hilltoppers.
“It feels like this game with Science Hill gets bigger and bigger each year,” Woods said. “There was just so much energy in the stands and on the field. That’s the way games like this should be.”