Ian Tierney really had no business getting to that ball.
Late in the Aquinas boys soccer team's playoff game with Savannah Country Day, the moment when everyone's legs were screaming, Tierney tracked down a sputtering pass that was trickling out of bounds. He estimated it rolled three-quarters of the way out. The senior touched the ball back in, collected possession along the right side and poked a pass through to teammate Matthew Moses, who redirected the cross into the goal for his second score of the game.
Tierney and Moses connected for all the goals Aquinas needed in a 2-1 win Tuesday night in the second round of the Class AA/A state playoffs. The Irish, who won their 10th consecutive game, advanced to the quarterfinals and will play at top-ranked, undefeated Blessed Trinity on Friday.
Tierney's second assist, which set up a goal with 4:46 left, proved to be the difference when the Hornets struck for their only score with 2:34 to play. Aquinas monopolized possession and scoring chances, but went more than 58 minutes between goals, keeping the home crowd antsy.
"I had to get all the way to the sideline," Tierney said. "It really helped alleviate the pressure, especially when they scored that goal at the end."
Said Aquinas coach Kevin Trammel, "Pure hustle on his part. Most times at that point of the game they tend to be lazy."
Aquinas (13-3) had opened the scoring about 15 minutes into the game, when Moses flicked a scorching strike from Tierney past the goalkeeper, as if he were a hockey player perched in front of a tiny net. Moses, a sophomore, plays strong enough in front of defenders to create a big target for his teammates, and he usually redirects those kinds of passes to them -- not put them in the goal, Trammel said.
"He likes to do those little flicks all the time ... those just happened to be in front of the goal," Trammel said.
The Hornets (12-5) never threatened to equalize after Nico Rittmeyer ripped in a goal from just outside the penalty box in the final three minutes.