Sporting WCA

Soccer Loses Heartbreaker in PK’s

Westminster soccer season came to a disappointing end against Parkway Central with a 0-1 loss in penalty kicks.

Going into the game, Parkway Central’s high powered offense was looking to break the stone-wall defense of the Cats. It was set up to be a game for the ages, and it did not disappoint.

The Colts started the attack right out of the gate, creating 2 scoring opportunities within the first 5 minutes as the Cats seemed to be caught off guard. Their midfield turned the ball over 6 times, and had absolutely no offensive push. Central took advantage and fired shot after shot, but luckily for the Cats, only 5 out of 13 first half shots were on target.

“We turned the ball over too much in the first half,” said David Kerkhoff, senior midfielder, “Our defense stepped up and really had our back throughout the whole game.”

The second half saw an increase in offense for both teams as Westminster came out with a new game plan to start the second half.

“Well, you can’t win games without scoring, so we knew we had to make some opportunities,” said Jack Bauer, senior forward, “We knew that we’d expose ourselves to fast breaks, but we trust our defense and Joey to keep us in the game.”

Both teams had golden opportunities to score and put the game away, but each goalie played out of their minds. Central’s Job Thomasson had 7 saves but the real story was Westminster’s keeper Joey Keane.

Keane was challenged all through the game but kept the Cats in the game all the way until the end. He faced 16 shots during regulation and had a perfect 16 saves. With only 2 minutes to go in regulation, Central created a 3 on 2 opportunity after a stolen pass. Zach Goldberg crossed in a beautiful ball to Luke Trail, who was just outside the 18 yard box. Trail fired a shot to the bottom left corner, but somehow Keane got to it. The ball bounced back to the middle of the box where Central’s Cameron Baird blasted a second shot. Keane scrambled to his feet and dove again to knock it away, but right to Goldberg who took a third shot. Keane got a hand on it to tip it in the air and was somehow able to come down with it.

“It was hands down the best game I’ve ever seen a goalie play,” said junior midfielder Luke Heintz, “He was standing in his head back there…I still don’t know how he came up with a few of those saves; those breakaways, I didn’t think we had any chance of stopping them.”

The breakaway came with 4 seconds left in regulation. Luke Trail broke through the Wildcats defense and had a 1 on 1 with Keane. Keane charged him and caught Trail in an awkward position to take a shot. Keane tackled the ball right out of the possession of Trail to force overtime.

In the closing moments of OT, there was another breakaway, almost identical to the first. This time, Goldberg was 1 on 1 with Keane. Learning from the previous breakaway, Goldberg fired a shot early. Keane dove to his right and got a hand on the ball, causing it to hit the post. It bounced right back to Goldberg who hit it to the far post where sophomore defender Nathan Laughlin was waiting to clear the ball as time expired.

Now it all came down to shootouts. Parkway Central went first. Goldberg stepped into the box and blasted a kick to the top left. Keane got a hand on it but not enough to knock it away. Westminster’s Captain Conner Dolan would bury his shot to even it up. It would stay this way for the next four shooters until Westminster’s Brandon Beat pulled it just wide to give Central the advantage. Central made their next one, leaving it all up to Nathan Laughlin. He put it bottom right corner, but Central’s goalie Thomasson guessed right and made the save to put an end to the Cats season.

“It’s never fun to lose, especially in that way. We played really well against a great team and I’m proud of our guys,” said senior captain Connor Dolan, “obviously not the way I wanted to end my soccer career, but we’re going to have a really good team next year and I think they’ll go really far. They’re a great group of guys and I’m going to miss playing with them.”

Westminster finished the season at 11-12-1, almost identical to last year.

Parkway Central goes on to play Parkway West Thursday at 4pm at Westminster.