This is what a high school rivalry game is all about. Fierce competition, great plays, enthusiastic parents, boisterous students, close score. All that and more were present Tuesday when Andover and Andover Central clashed on the pitch at District Stadium.
In the end, Jacob Loflin scored both goals, the game winner coming on a direct kick in overtime, as the Trojans rallied for a 2-1 victory.
"It's out of this world. I'm pumped. It hasn't even clicked yet that we just won," Loflin said, as the Trojans improved to 5-2 with their third consecutive win.
The Golden Goal came in the second minute of the first overtime. After a foul in Andover's attacking third, Loflin spotted the ball, briefly said something to the referee, stepped back and booted it into the back of the net.
"I looked up and saw the keeper off his line and I just shot," he said.
Andover coach Chris Lemons knew the Jaguars would be more than ready to play, given their tough schedule and the rivalry between the two schools.
"I told my boys before the game we've got to be ready from the start because they're going to be coming after us," Lemons said. "After the first five minutes, I could tell it was going to be a long half. They were coming at us, we were letting them and we were scared."
The Jaguars came out with fire in their eyes and pushed the Trojans all over the field. Central was sharp on offense with its passing and ball movement, and tough on defense with its marking and positioning. Andover was just a smidge behind, but not enough to allow goals.
Jaguar fans thought they had scored on a 55-yard boot by Jarrett Whitcomb early in the half, but the indirect kick wasn't touched before breaking the plane of the goal and was waved off.
Despite spending 80 percent of the first half in its attacking third, Central could only muster one goal. That came in the 36th minute when Matt Hamm headed in a corner kick from Andrew Annett.
"We kept pushing forward as much as we could," ACHS coach Jamie Harding said of the first half. "We have a bunch of opportunities in there, but the ball didn't find the back of the net as many times as I would like."
Andover came out with more spark in the second half, but still had difficulty getting into the final third to create shot opportunities. The two teams went back and forth until the 61st minute when Central was called for a penalty in the box. Loflin stepped up and drilled in the kick to even the score.
Tied 1-1 in the second minute of overtime, another Central foul set up the winning kick.
"They got a quick restart before we could set up. I don't think our keeper was in the right position," said Harding, who expected the game would be decided in overtime. "He (Loflin) put it on target and the ball went in. That's the end of the game."
This has been a tough season for the Jaguars. Now 0-6, they have played some of the best teams in the area close, but no cigar.
"Emotionally, we've been like this all season," Harding said. "This is confidence; we're playing better every game. We've just got to get that win in the column."
Lemons wanted to run a set piece on the overtime kick. He held back when he realized what Loflin was doing.
"In my mind I wanted to yell and tell him to stop because I wanted to set up a set piece. But something kept me from saying something, and I'm glad," Lemons said. "He had the confidence … to see that the keeper wasn't in position, he put the shot on frame and the rest is history."
Each team is back in action Thursday, as Andover plays at Maize and Central is home to Newton.