WARREN - Sometimes, it's better to be lucky than good. Just ask Badger's Ben Meardith.
In the 69th minute of the Braves' 1-1 tie at Harding Saturday, the central midfielder fired a 30-yard free kick right at Raider goalkeeper Charles Wargo. Instead of the save, as expected, the ball bounced off Wargo's hands, over the goalkeeper and into the net.
Lady Luck favored the Braves on that play, Meardith said.
"It was a tough shot (for Wargo) just because it was straight onto the keeper," he said. "I just got lucky. That's all I can say about it - luck came through."
The goal sparked the Braves (11-2-1), who, up that point, were put on their heels defensively by Harding (5-6-1).
Badger enjoyed more possession in the final 11 minutes and pushed for a game-winner, coming close in the 73rd minute. Once again off a free kick, Wargo pushed a dangerous 28-yard shot that looked like it was dipping into the goal over the bar.
"After that goal, the team really came through," Meardith said. "We really got our energy back. Any team that's going to come back and tie a big game like this is going to be energized. My team just rallied, got their heads up and just stuck through (it)."
Before Meardith's goal, the Raiders controlled much of the game.
Harding utilized its speed, especially on the flanks, to cause problems for the Badger defense. The Raiders created multiple chances by connecting two quick passes that opened up the sideline.
"They are by far the quickest team that we have faced all year, but we knew that going in," Badger coach Karl Martin said. "Speed to the wide-side I'm not too worried about, but the speed over the top where you get the breakaways are really scary. (Harding) seems to be wanting to go wide and try to get the ball in, which is a good strategy, but I think we handled it pretty well."
Despite creating many chances, the Raiders couldn't capitalize, ruining the missed opportunities later in the match.
In the 18th minute, an unmarked Javier Smith met a Micah Tatebe free kick with his head and directed the ball towards goal, only to see it sail wide. The senior captain had another header go wide early in the second half, that time off a corner.
Also, forward Dominic Milano-Jones headed a cross from Smith into the crossbar in the 47th minute, adding to the long list of missed opportunities.
Harding did eventually score, but as with the Braves' goal, Harding got a bit of luck. In the 61st minute, Smith sent in a cross that hit sophomore midfielder Eric Tenney, bounced over Badger goalkeeper Jared Meikle and slowly rolled into the net.
Harding coach Tilden Tatebe said that he likes his team's style of play but wonders if there is a mental block keeping the Raiders from scoring.
"We just can't find the back of the net," Tatebe said. "We have chances, we just need to finish. We move the ball all the way up the field, and when we get to the attacking third, we can't finish.
"When you don't score, you don't win."