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Black Forest Academy’s David Armstrong races down the sideline as SHAPE’s Claudio Giraldi gives chase during the Division II European Soccer Championship on Saturday in Ramstein, Germany.

Black Forest Academy’s David Armstrong races down the sideline as SHAPE’s Claudio Giraldi gives chase during the Division II European Soccer Championship on Saturday in Ramstein, Germany. (Raymond T. Conway / S&S)

Black Forest Academy’s David Armstrong races down the sideline as SHAPE’s Claudio Giraldi gives chase during the Division II European Soccer Championship on Saturday in Ramstein, Germany.

Black Forest Academy’s David Armstrong races down the sideline as SHAPE’s Claudio Giraldi gives chase during the Division II European Soccer Championship on Saturday in Ramstein, Germany. (Raymond T. Conway / S&S)

SHAPE’s Fernando Barron tries to elude a sliding Caleb Thomas during the Division II European Soccer Championship on Saturday in Ramstein, Germany.

SHAPE’s Fernando Barron tries to elude a sliding Caleb Thomas during the Division II European Soccer Championship on Saturday in Ramstein, Germany. (Raymond T. Conway / S&S)

Black Forest Academy’s Stefan Dueck hits a header over SHAPE’s Fernando Barron during the Division II European Soccer Championship on Saturday in Ramstein, Germany.

Black Forest Academy’s Stefan Dueck hits a header over SHAPE’s Fernando Barron during the Division II European Soccer Championship on Saturday in Ramstein, Germany. (Raymond T. Conway / S&S)

Black Forest Academy’s Ian James, left and SHAPE’s Ole Olsen leap for the ball during the Division II European Soccer Championship on Saturday in Ramstein, Germany.

Black Forest Academy’s Ian James, left and SHAPE’s Ole Olsen leap for the ball during the Division II European Soccer Championship on Saturday in Ramstein, Germany. (Raymond T. Conway / S&S)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — After 97 minutes of scoreless struggle on a puddled and muddy field Saturday night, SHAPE’s Delyan Kraev connected for the only goal of the title game to end Black Forest Academy’s two-year reign as European Division II boys’ soccer champion.

But in addition to being the game’s only score, Kraev’s strike was singular in two other ways.

“That was my first goal for this team this season,” said Kraev, a junior from Varna, Bulgaria, just minutes after his shot, off a pass from Alexander Blaess, splattered through the mud surrounding Black Forest Academy goalkeeper Nathan Krause with three minutes left in the second 10-minute overtime period.

It was the first save Krause, voted to the all-tournament team, failed to make during the entire tournament. Prior to Saturday night’s heartbreaking 1-0 loss, top-seeded BFA had shut out Aviano, Vilseck, Bitburg and SHAPE.

Even after Kraev’s goal, SHAPE wasn’t out of the woods. BFA attacked furiously during the overtime’s final minutes, coming close to the equalizer when Joseph Lee’s crisp volley from the top of the penalty box on a BFA corner kick whistled just past the right post.

The miss left SHAPE keeper Phillip Border sighing with relief.

“It was really scary,” said Border, whose crossbar made a pair of saves for him in regulation, when asked about playing in such a quagmire. After a showery morning, Ramstein’s normally pristine field was drenched by a vicious thunderstorm that delayed play in the preceding girls’ title game for nearly an hour. “The ball can skip and go in.”

Even the one-goal lead as the clock ticked down provided no relief.

“There was even more pressure after we scored,” Border said, “because I didn’t want to let them tie it.”

SHAPE’s goal came just three minutes after the Spartans had seemingly beaten Krause on a similar shot. Midfielder Nathan Howell angled a shot from left to right that got past Krause but was slowed so much by the mud that all-tournament BFA defender Jori Dueck was able to clear the ball before it crossed the line.

The victory capped a remarkable comeback by SHAPE from what had been an up-and-down season. In addition to losing to BFA in pool play, the Spartans needed a shootout victory in the semifinals over league rival AFNORTH, a team which beat them twice during the regular season.

“They told me they were going to win this for me,” said Spartans coach Tony Blasio, who’s been at SHAPE since 1965 and who could have lived without the overtime. Shaking his head, he added, “At least we didn’t have to go to a shootout.”

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