MIDDLETOWN — For a stretch of about five minutes, it looked as if Brandon Drossman’s fairy-tale run of clutch postseason goals might propel Byram Hills to the Class A state title game. But the magic ran out in Saturday’s state semifinal at Faller Field in a 2-1 overtime loss to Greece Athena (Section 5).
Drossman put the Bobcats (17-6) ahead in the 44th minute, burying a goal on a misplayed clear by the Trojans.
“The ball came dribbling across the box and we practice those all of the time,” Drossman said. “You just have to hit it one time and I slotted it right into the corner. The goalie got a hand on it, but it went through.”
It was the fifth goal of the playoffs for former backup defender, but Greece Athena wouldn’t let Byram’s lead last long.
“I thought them equalizing quickly reminded me of us,” coach Matty Allen said. “It’s what we did against Yorktown (in the section final) and they did it back to us. It was really a test for us to hold strong. We contemplated switching to four backs (from three) at that point, but we held strong. I thought that Payton (Levine) and Ross (Weinfeld) and Yianni (Lambos) did a great job in the back.”
The Bobcats survived an onslaught from Greece Athena (15-6-1) late in the second half, and in the final minute of regulation, Byram had a golden opportunity for the winner.
In a physical game in which few fouls were called, Drossman shook loose on a breakaway and was taken down hard in the box before he could get a shot off.
Allen threw his hands up in disbelief, but a call never came.
“I don’t want to blame anybody, but I got hit (and thought it was a penalty kick), but what can you do?” Drossman said. “They weren’t calling much, but it went both ways and we had to deal with it. It happens.”
Matt Berger had another breakaway opportunity for the Bobcats in the 87th minute that was saved by Trojans goalkeeper Tyler Graves, and in the 89th minute, Zach Koons netted the golden goal.
The loss snapped a 12-game winning streak for Byram, which won its fifth Section 1 title in nine years.
“I have immense amounts of pride,” Lambos said. “I love these boys like brothers. We made history, we made our community and school proud, and we also made ourselves proud. It was a great season for us.”