In the waning seconds of the game, Derby Head Coach Paul Burke reached into his playbook for the ever-so-common senior-defender-heads-in-the-game-winner-on-a-corner-kick-with-six-seconds-left trick.
All is fair in love and war and soccer strategy.
“We don't really have a set play, but me and Chase (Sacket), every time before the game, we'll sit there and cross about 30 balls and see what we can do with them,” said Marcus McKee, who took Sacket's corner kick off his cranium. “I know where he's going to put it every time.”
Derby lined up for a corner against Newton in a 2-2 game with 12 seconds remaining. Burke said the team crashed toward the goal to create havoc and scoring options. McKee found the sweet spot in the defense to give the Railers a bitter loss.
“It was a good one for the team,” McKee said. “We didn't want to tie Newton, that's for sure. It felt good.”
Without a sloppy second half on defense against a rambunctious Railer offense, a tie would have never been fathomed.
Derby snipered passes through the opposition in the first half. Ryan Steven and Alan Flores each polished off a play with a score to give the Panthers an assumed comfortable 2-0 halftime edge.
“We had to make our adjustments at halftime. They were just able to get the ball back behind our defense in the first half,” said Scott Jantzi, Newton head coach. “We were able to finally get some attack going and attack them with pace.”
The Railers swung the momentum pendulum their way in the second half behind a piercing offensive onslaught. Indications showed Newton would soon get on the scoreboard.
One shot popped off the top crossbar, off the football goalpost, then bounced off the turf and backward into the net. The potential goal was correctly waived off. Minutes later, Jared Rangel pinged a penalty kick off the right sidebar as the shutout continued.
With 15 minutes to go, the attack paid off as Franklin Vasquez-Flores crossed up the Derby defense for a goal to cut Newton's deficit to 2-1. Four minutes later, Ryan Stuchlik tied the contest with a goal.
“They had all of (the momentum),” Burke said. “They're really physical. If you leave them around in a game, they probably deserve a goal or two because of how hard they work and everything they're putting in.”
But McKee's header helped the Panthers survive the scare and preserve an undefeated record on Derby's home turf.
“With six seconds left, we have to be mentally tough in those types of situations,” Jantzi said. “I'm very proud of my guys for showing guts and being able to come back.
“We have to figure out what we need to do the next time.”
Newton dropped to 6-5 on the season. Derby (7-3) responded well after dropping a 4-1 loss to defending 6A state champion Wichita Northwest a night before.
“We didn't want to go down losing two games in a row,” McKee said. “We wanted to prove to everyone that that was a fluke and that's not going to happen again.”
The Panthers will put their 2-0 Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division I mark on the line Thursday at Maize.