PLAIN CITY — For nearly 30 minutes Tuesday afternoon, the Clearfield boys soccer team watched and waited as paramedics tended to an injured teammate lying on the field.
When the ambulance stretchered him off, the Falcons set about defending their 2-1 lead over Fremont at that point early in the second half.
As injuries to teammates can do, the Falcons were shaken up and Fremont scored a goal to level the game at 2-2 in the 73rd minute.
There was, as they say, more to the story.
With 10 minutes remaining, Joel Washburn subbed in for Clearfield and scored two goals to give the Falcons a dramatic 4-3 win over the Silverwolves.
Clearfield (6-9, 5-7 Region 1) can finish no worse than tied for fourth place in Region 1 even if Fremont (5-11-1, 4-7 Region 1) beats Northridge on Thursday. For a Falcons program that hasn’t gone to the playoffs since 2012, that’s a pretty big deal.
“They’ve been getting better and better at that — fighting — the whole game instead of giving up some soft goals and just keep fighting until the end,” head coach Jason Steiner said.
Both of Washburn’s goals came in second-half stoppage time.
Washburn latched on to a through-ball and lofted a finish over Fremont’s keeper from inside the box, with the ball just dropping under the crossbar to make it 3-2.
Barely a minute later, Washburn slid in the box to meet Taggert Ralphs’ cross from the right, getting just enough on the ball to roll it in for a 4-2 lead.
Fremont’s Brandon Baray added a penalty kick later in stoppage time, but it wasn’t enough.
“I feel like it was passion and heart. We finally came together and we finally started to work and realize we can actually do this after we scored a couple on them,” Washburn said. “I was just happy that I could help this team out with all I could and put two goals in the back of the net for them.”
Adrian Valdez put Clearfield on the scoreboard first with a thunderous, long-distance shot in the 20th minute. Four minutes later, Dallin Steiner thumped in a low free kick for a 2-0 advantage.
Fremont’s Porter Iverson converted a penalty kick early in the second half and then a scary scene unfolded. A Clearfield player rose for a challenge, landed awkwardly and stayed down on the field.
An ambulance was called and stretchered the player off after he was tended to for nearly a half-hour by paramedics and coaches. The Standard-Examiner is withholding his name because the extent or specifics of the injury were unknown Tuesday.
“It’s a little scary with (him) going down, but the boys realized what was at stake as well,” coach Jason Steiner said. “They stepped up, they wanted to do it for (him) and Joel Washburn came in — and hadn’t played in the game — came in and got two goals for us. Did exactly what I wanted him to do.”
Throughout the game, Fremont peppered the Clearfield penalty box with long throw-ins from Cole Sederholm.
After several attempts to break through the Falcons’ goal, Lance Graves met a Sederholm long throw with his head and leveled the game with less than eight minutes left.
It was right around this time that Washburn had come on to the field. He says he had scored one goal all season prior to Tuesday and has mostly come off the bench. His teammates were calling him the “Super Sub.”
Washburn said he might have to angle coach Jason Steiner for a starting spot. After all, the Falcons have at least one game left this season, so there’s ample opportunity.
Had it not been for Falcons’ goalkeeper Bryan Brandley, this game is likely an eight-goal affair that ends in extra time.
Brandley — who was playing with an injured shoulder — saved a header from point-blank range on what turned out to be the last play of the game before the final whistle.