Saturday, May 1, 2010

1-4A Huntsville HIgh School Derby Decided In PKs

After splitting their regular season matches, it could be said that not much separates the Huntsville rivals Randolph and Catholic, be it distance between campuses or quality on the soccer field. That viewpoint was vindicated in today's AHSAA 1-4A second round playoff match as the teams battled through a scoreless regulation and overtime. The Huntsville derby match's official result will be a 0:0 draw, but the playoffs require a winner. So, the victor would be decided by kicks from the mark, and the Raider's goalkeeper, Drew McDonald , was the deciding factor as Randolph won the tiebreaker 4:2.

Earlier in the day, it was feared that the game would be postponed due to tornadic weather conditions, but the weather held and a capacity crowd witnessed the action including a heard of cattle on the hill adjacent to the field. A strong gale played havoc with clearances and passes and it seemed Randolph did not know how to take advantage of the tailwind in the first half. When asked about the wind Randolph coach Sean Cooper said, "Our game is ball on the ground and we really don't look to play many long balls."

Catholic took a different tack by taking advantage of the tailwind in the second half with several shots from distance that troubled the Randolph nets but didn't break the deadlock, including a shot from the Falcon's foward Andrew Dunn 25 yards from goal that beat McDonald only to hit the upright. Tensions showed as several harsh challenges were exchanged between the teams and names were noted in the referee AJ Hick's notebook.

Perhaps they didn't know it was playoff game with overtime, or maybe it was feeding time, but as the teams lined up for the extra time periods, the cattle on the hill had moved on to better pastures. However, the fans were treated to exciting end to end action, but no decider would come and both five minute extra time periods ended without a golden goal.

In the dreaded PKs, McDonald stood to the fore with a vital save of Catholic's Raul Alonso after Cody Santos converted his spot kick for the Raiders. The teams then traded goals from Sanket Shah for Randolph and Americ Zuurhout for Catholic. After Randolph's Eric Ly scored from 12 yards, Nicco Libarios missed wide on his attempt for the Falcons. McDonald, himself, would then send his shot past Catholic keeper Brent DeSilva for the fourth and deciding kick, sending his team through to the semifinals and his teammates and fans into jubilation.