The Lawrence High boys soccer team played a season's worth of soccer in its opener Friday night.
If the season goes anything like this, it's going to be one heck of a ride.
From actual time - 95 minutes - to the range of emotions the Lions' experienced - elation, anger, frustration, fatigue - LHS left the field at Youth Sports Inc. with a 3-2, double-overtime victory over Manhattan High and the sense that it was all worth it.
"This was definitely a great first step," LHS coach Matt Anderson said. "It's important for us to realize that we could start the season 3-0 and still end up with an ugly record if we don't remain focused. But this was a great way to start the season."
Remaining focused was no problem for Lawrence in the opener. Twice the Lions took one-goal leads (1-0 and 2-1) only to see Manhattan tie the game on both occasions, the second coming with 16 minutes left in regulation.
Each time, LHS responded, something the Lions admit might not have happened a year ago.
"I didn't have any doubt we'd come back from those," senior Dar Fornelli said. "We just seemed to have control the entire night. I knew we'd get our chances."
The Lions jumped on top early when the younger Fornelli, Tor, notched the first goal of the game at 28:34. The first goal was the result of a relentless LHS attack that produced shot after shot and controlled possession throughout the half.
The Lions' second goal came from the foot of Eddie Okene, who took a sweet feed from the midfield, stopped on a dime and flipped the ball past the off-balance Manhattan goalkeeper.
In addition to giving the Lions' a 2-1 halftime advantage, Okene's goal - which came at the 4:38 mark - served as a reminder that the Lions were not going to go away.
"We came out here to win," senior Spencer Scott said. "A loss or even a tie would've made me mad. Our fans were amazing, this was the best crowd I've ever seen out here. It was just a great night."
Scott did his part to make sure things ended in favor of the home team after a scoreless first overtime. With two warm-up shots under his belt, the second of which grazed the post, Scott took the ball, moved past two Manhattan defenders and ripped a low liner to the right of the Manhattan goalie. The ball found the back of the net and pandemonium ensued. Scott was mobbed by a raucous LHS student section, which roared throughout the night and went wild when the final shot struck nylon.
"So this is what it's like at a football game on Friday night," Anderson quipped.
As it turned out, Scott's shot was not a case of him simply being in the right place at the right time.
"He told me at the end of regulation to get him the ball just outside of 18 (yards) and he'd take care of the rest," Dar Fornelli said.
That was nearly exactly the spot on the field where Scott became the hero.
Somewhat lost in the euphoria of the occasion was senior defender Bobby Davis' game-saving header less than a minute before Scott's winner that almost certainly saved a Manhattan goal .
"That was a great save," Anderson said. "A superb play. And it's something we stress with our small-sided passing and the way we defend as a team. You can't even have one heart not working."
Friday, hearts weren't just working, they were racing.