Gilpin’s goal gives Polytech 2OT victory

Sussex Tech’s John Whealton and Polytech’s Prosper-Julian Armah battle for a header.

WOODSIDE – Dakota Gilpin wasn’t trying to score.

The Polytech High senior midfielder just wanted to set up his teammate in front of the net.

Instead, his crosser – intended for fellow senior Prosper-Julian Armah – ricocheted off a Sussex Tech High defender and into the back of the net for the game-winning goal in double overtime Thursday night.

“When I was running, I beat my guy, got around him and I was looking for Prosper because he was running across the box,” said Gilpin. “I was looking for a near-post and I hit it, and when it hit that guy’s foot I saw the keeper was already out of the goal – he was diving for it – and I just saw it going towards the goal and I turned and ran. It was so exciting, it was awesome.”

“The ideal thing was just to get it behind the backs and not try to play the kick and run game,” said Polytech coach Shaune Gorman. “He was able to get a ball across the box, unlucky bounce and the keeper was coming out, so it went in. It’s a great feeling, I know this was pretty big for us on Senior Night.”

The season finale Henlopen North win over the Ravens (7-5-1) was Polytech’s 10th victory of the season, putting the Panthers in great position as they await the Division I boys’ soccer state tournament brackets.

It was the fourth overtime game for the Panthers (10-2-3) this season.

Polytech finished 6-8-1 and missed the postseason a season ago and won just three games in 2017. It marks Poly’s first double-digit win season since the program went 11-4 in 2016.

“At this point, with the way the standings are looking, we knew a big win here could put us in a decent seed for the playoffs and that’s what we’re really looking for. So, we’re pretty excited,” said Gorman.

The Panthers outshot the Ravens, 19-17, and attempted eight corner kicks to Sussex Tech’s two.

Junior midfielder Dermot Williamson scored the other two goals for the Panthers, while goalkeeper Christian Cote reeled in 15 saves.

Williamson was just 48 hours removed from scoring the game-deciding goal in the 73rd minute in a 1-0 victory over Cape Henlopen High Oct. 22.

Seniors Patrick Short and John Whealton scored the goals for Tech, with senior goalkeeper Jodi Johnson making sliding saves and diving stops for much of the night. He reeled in a game-high 16 saves for the Ravens.

“He’s a really good keeper,” Gorman said of Johnson. “I told him it was pretty unlucky there at the end, he played a great game. But hey, man, take them as you can get them.”

Polytech pushed the tempo early on, creating scoring opportunities in front of the net before breaking the scoring open on a Williamson penalty kick in the 11th minute.

Short answered just 63 seconds later, knotting the game 1-1 with his 14th goal of the season.

Tied 1-1 at the halftime break, Williamson regained the lead for Poly with his second goal on a header off a corner kick attempt in the 50th minute.

Both the Williamson goals came on set pieces, which as Gorman pointed out has been a strong part of Polytech’s game this season.

“Set pieces have been big for us this year, they’ve been the key component,” Gorman said. “Trying to get the ball on the attacking third, finding ways to just get set pieces. I feel like we’ve been pretty good out of the air, so that’s the ideal thing – as long as we can get set pieces, find a way to get those chances, we feel pretty confident.”

Polytech looked to be in control and headed for a victory before Whealton’s equalizing goal in the 78th minute to send the game to overtime.

Following a scoreless 10-minute overtime period, Gilpin sealed the double OT win in the 98th minute.

“I’ve been waiting four years for this,” said Cote, one of the 11 seniors on the squad. “I’m so happy we’re in the tournament, it’s been our goal since the beginning. I feel like no one really thought we were going to be here in the beginning of the year, but we proved them wrong because we worked hard. That’s what it’s about.”

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