After a game that needed two overtime periods and took three and a half hours to complete, the College of Southern Maryland Hawks tied the Union County College Owls on April 22 by a score of 4-4.
In a grueling game played in sweltering heat, neither team relented, creating chances and trying to find that last goal that would give them the perfect way to start the season - with a win.
"They showed competitive spirit, grit, grind, they showed it all," CSM head coach Zach Bowman said of his Hawks. "Those attributes I can't really instill in them, they have to have it by themselves."
Freshman midfielder Logan Miller came prepared to get his season going on the right foot, as he recorded a hat trick.
His first goal came on a penalty kick in the 37th minute of the game, evening the score at 1-1. Union County had jumped on the scoreboard first in the 15th minute. His second goal gave the Hawks a 2-1 advantage in the 61st minute when freshman midfielder Justin Miller sent in a corner kick from the right side that Logan headed in with authority.
Bowman said Logan and Justin "are very smart, creative players. I'm giving them freedom to do what they need to do, and they did a great job of that today."
After Union County responded in the 64th minute, Logan Miller scored his third goal and gave CSM the lead back just one minute later when he headed in a free kick from sophomore defender Brandon James that came all the way out from near midfield.
"It feels pretty good," Miller said of his hat trick. "I was a little surprised, it being the first game of the season. I knew if I put the work in, the results would show, and it did."
"The biggest thing right now is they're being creative, they're being ruthless," Bowman said of his offense. "I almost want to say they're being killers in front of the net, and that's what I want."
CSM came within one goal of equaling their offensive output from all of last season.
However, Union County's offense wasn't done scoring either. The Owls scored twice in the final 10 minutes of regulation to send the game to overtime at four goals apiece.
"At the end of the day, the goals we let up were individual mistakes, team mistakes that we can fix, stuff we can control, so moving forward it's on me, coach Gary, and coach Hunter to help them progress forward," Bowman said. "With this being the first game of the season, it'll take a little bit for them to get organized."
Sophomore midfielder Hayden Gould got a lot of playing time on the back line this game, and he did well to force Union County forwards off their path and knock the ball away from them.
"Wherever [Bowman] needs me, I'm willing to step up and be the leader that he needs," Gould said. "Wherever I'm at, I'll play the leader role."
Logan Miller said this game "gives us a pretty good preview on how we're going to do for the season if we keep doing what we're doing."
"All sides of the field, everybody worked their heart out," Gould said. "I feel like all the work that we put in in the preseason, we showed it today, and we worked hard for a good result. It's a great start. Definitely things to work on, but nothing that we can't fix. I'm very excited for the rest of the season."