The Cape Ann League Baker Division race is going to come down to the final games of the season when it comes to boys soccer.
Both the Rockport and Manchester Essex came into Wednesday's key late season game looking to control its own destiny for the league title with a win. Instead, the rivals battled to a 1-1 draw at Hyland Field and the league race still hangs in the balance.
Rockport has at least one game remaining, possibly two if it can fit in a makeup game with Lynnfield, and currently sits at 3-1-4, controlling its own destiny in the league. Manchester Essex, on the other hand, moves to 4-3-2 with one game remaining and needs a win and some help moving forward to have a shot at the league crown, which it has won each of the last four seasons.
Georgetown, Rockport's opponent on Saturday, is also still in the mix with a record of 3-3-3.
"Normally we would be really happy coming into Manchester Essex and getting a tie," Rockport head coach Dave Curley said. "But we are a little disappointed tonight, we thought this was going to be our game. But credit to Manchester Essex, they're very good and well coached as always."
Rockport came out strong and controlled the opening 20 minutes of play and Benan Murdock put the visitors on the board in the 10th minute. The ball found its way onto Murdock's foot on a long kick into the box from Austin Matus. After rattling around the box off of a few legs, Murdock was able to gather on the right wing and finished far post for a 1-0 lead.
The Vikings continued to press from there but could not find the back of the net again.
"Benan really got us going today like he has a few times this season," Curley said. "We were good in the first 20 but there were a couple chances we could have converted to open it up a little."
Manchester Essex started to find its rhythm in the second frame, especially in the final 10 minutes where the field began to tilt in its favor.
In the 33rd minute, the Hornets tied it up when Jagger Nowak's long direct kick found the foot of Tommy Bowen, who finished in close to tie it up, 1-1.
After an evenly played third, the Hornets pressed for the go ahead goal in the final quarter of play. The home team had a few big chances, but they were all turned aside. The best chance came in the 65th minute when Naderson Curtis let a hard roller go from just inside the box that was saved by Vikings keeper Camden Wheeler (six saves) with a dive to his left to preserve the point.
Matus led the Rockport defense with Noah Cook and Jamison Wrinn playing well on the back line. Finn Carlson made seven saves in the Hornets goal.