In soccer, a successful set piece relies on communication and execution.
For Fair Grove’s Garrett Potter, a healthy dose of determination certainly doesn’t hurt.
The junior midfielder’s header helped propel the Eagles to a 2-1 comeback win over visiting Laquey Thursday afternoon.
“I told [Stacey] to take the corner,” Potter said. “I told him to wait for me to get in where I usually stand, which is back post. I can’t really see over everyone because I’m pretty short. I just had a perfect opening, connected with it and it turned into a beautiful goal.”
Potter’s scoring opportunity came off a corner kick from Kyle Stacey midway through the second period. The pinpoint floated to the back left post and past the outstretched arms of keeper Danny Graves.
During the game, Fair Grove head coach Joseph Florez casually joked about coaching his own keeper, 6’5” Garrett Kesterson, to be tall.
With Potter, Florez might need to put in some overtime.
“I don’t want to exaggerate, but that kid’s literally like 5’2” or 5’3”,” Florez said. “And he’s the one that got to that ball. He’s the shortest kid on the field, and he does it pretty consistently. He’s great in the air.”
In a back-and-forth match where both team’s struggled to maintain possession, Potter’s header proved to be the difference-maker.
In the first half, Laquey dominated the ball for the most part. While both teams failed to capitalize on multiple scoring opportunities, the Hornets finally converted with the period winding down.
Junior striker Tristan Gan blasted a free kick from just outside the penalty box off a defender for an own-goal deflection at 36:00.
Despite the deficit, Florez put the goal into proper perspective.
“You can’t let that stuff get in your head,” Florez said. “You can say it’s fluky, but we all know, to a certain extent, you can make your own luck and so we just kind of stayed with it.”
After some halftime adjustments, the Eagles didn’t wait long for a shot at the equalizer.
Junior Sebastian Newkirk attacked from the left side of the box, displayed some impressive footwork and scored on the game’s second own-goal deflection. Five minutes later, Potter’s header found the back of the net, as well.
Laquey head coach Tyler Sevon echoed the opposition’s own-goal frustrations, and pointed to a big shift in momentum as a result.
“There was a little miscommunication there, but then they came right back on the second goal,” Sevon said. “We weren’t marking on the corner, and they came back about five minutes later. They had the momentum, and they put one in.”
The Hornets mounted a late-game rally with aggressive, physical play; however, Fair Grove’s defensive scheme seemed to have the answer each time.
“I thought we looked kind of lazy,” Sevon said. “We were a little tired, and I don’t know why, but that’s no excuse. We lost possession, and we couldn’t get it back in the second half.”
Fair Grove (2-2) travels to Cassville on Tuesday, and then the Eagles join Laquey (2-1) in the Fair Grove Tournament late next week.
Fair Grove – 2, Laquey – 1
Laquey 36:00 Tristan Gan (unassisted deflection) 1-0
Fair Grove 50:00 Sebastian Newkirk (unassisted deflection) 1-1 Fair Grove 56:00 Garrett Potter (Kyle Stacey assist) 2-1