For a game and a half Sunday, Columbia County Patriots goaltender Scott Hartenstein was impenetrable.
Everything Triangle FC White hurled at the goalkeeper was swatted away with confidence and skill. It all changed after halftime of the Under-15 Green championship game of the Augusta Arsenal Spring Shootout.
Playing with the wind and slightly downfield, Triangle, from Hillsborough, N.C., finally solved Hartenstein for a 3-0 win and their age group title at Fort Gordon's Barton Field.
"He did an excellent job," said Patriots coach Fred Hartenstein, who is also Scott's father. "We're all proud of the job he does. We've got a great bunch of kids."
Earlier Sunday, the two teams played to a 0-0 tie in the final game of pool play to advance and the final started much like the first game, thanks to the young Hartenstein.
Triangle pounded out eight shots in the first half, but Hartenstein got a hand on five of them, making great saves on several hard shots.
His teammates, however, couldn't get on the scoreboard.
A soft shot by Tyrell Dyson slipped through the fingers of Triangle keeper Jasdeep Garcha, who barely recovered in time to grab the ball off the line. Columbia County's Ryan Holt also had a good chance, but sent it wide of the net.
Garcha didn't start the second half, but Triangle's defense didn't let anything near backup goaltender J.B. Baumann. After giving up six shots in the first half, Triangle stifled Columbia County's forwards and didn't give up a single second-half shot.
Triangle, meanwhile, took 12 more shots in the second half, finally breaking through on Bryce Little's hard shot from the edge of the penalty area.
Disheartened, Hartenstein gave up two more goals. Steve Stinson headed in a goal off a free kick and Kyle Bielan finished the scoring with another header.
"If we hadn't had that first goal, it might've gone to another 0-0 tie and possibly penalty kicks," Triangle FC coach Dino Ankrah said. "They played just as well as we did."
For Fred Hartenstein, this is the second year in a row he's taken a team to the finals of this tournament only to lose.
"We played hard but it wasn't meant to be," he said. "It would've been nice to get first, but we'll try again next year."
Reach Raymond Beasock at (706) 823-3221 or firstname.lastname@example.org