To McPherson boys soccer coach Chris Adrian, winning or losing a penalty kick (pk) shootout is like winning or losing “a coin toss” – i.e., there’s considerable luck involved.
Saturday against Kansas City Christian in the Class 4-3-2-1A consolation match at Piper High School, McPherson lost the coin toss (figuratively speaking) and its opportunity to finish third in the state (literally speaking).
With the score 2-2 after regulation and four overtime periods, McPherson and Kansas City Christian went to a penalty kick shootout. Both teams each made three of five kicks during the first round, prompting a sudden victory round. McPherson defender Adam Bowers lined in the Bullpups’ first sudden victory attempt. Panthers midfielder Jacob Trott answered.
Then, Panthers keeper Mitchell Pivovar blocked McPherson senior midfielder Nick Torres’ attempt. Senior defender Tucker Swiastyn, kicking with a torn ACL, followed by drilling in his attempt to give Kansas City Christian a 3-2 victory (5-4 on penalties).
“The best players in the world miss pks,” Adrian said. “You can’t simulate it (game situation). Crazy things happen.
However, Panthers coach Allan Chugg suggested that making or missing penalty kicks in games isn’t reliant only on crazy luck.
“There is some skill and science to it – within reason,” Chugg said. “You improve the odds, let’s put it that way. You improve the odds of the coin toss by really working at it – and we did it every day.”
The Bullpups tried to avoid settling it with penalty kicks by grabbing the opening lead early in the first half and then reclaiming the lead early in the second half. Logan Schrag lofted in a shot from about 25 yards out to make it 1-0 McPherson in the 12th minute. The Panthers tied it in the 18th minute on an own goal by McPherson. McPherson went ahead again in the 42nd minute on an own goal by Kansas City Christian.
When asked for the reasons behind the own goals, Adrian said: “I don’t know what that was. I don’t think it was a lack of focus. Obviously, it’s tough to come out for a third-place game for anyone, because you’re all geared up for that final. You could tell both teams were exhausted.”
Kansas City Christian made it 2-2 in the 80th minute to force overtime. After neither team scored the golden goal during the four overtimes, Dylan Blosser, Ryan Horton and Peter Horton each made penalty kicks for McPherson during the first shootout round. Brad Tippin, Patrick McEldowney and Thomas Gentry made their respective kicks for Kansas City Christian to help force the sudden victory shootout.
Because of his ACL injury, Swiastyn rode the bench during regulation and the overtime periods. When he was finally called on to win it, he admittedly “got the butterflies a little bit” as he walked on the field to kick.
“I just prayed that the Lord would give me peace – and he did, and allowed me to score that,” he said. “I just tried to be calm about it.”
With Swiastyn’s game-winning kick, the Panthers finished 10-7-4. The Bullpups finished 17-4-0. Coming off a draining 3-1 semifinal loss to Tonganoxie Friday night at Piper, it was difficult to prepare for Kansas City Christian, Torres said.
“I was happy with it (our effort), but it (season) didn’t end the way we wanted it to end,” he commented.
To those who saw the dramatic ending to the third-place game and stayed for the Class 4-3-2-1A championship game between Topeka-Hayden and Tonganoxie, the title game probably seemed anticlimactic. Powered by four goals from senior forward Conner Beck and a goal from Brogan Heinem, Topeka-Hayden cruised to a 5-1 win, giving the Wildcats their first state boys soccer title since 2000.
Dissatisfied with their third-place finish in 2011, the Wildcats (20-1-0) wanted to win it all this season, according to Beck. That dissatisfaction “kept them focused” this season, Wildcats coach Klaus Kreutzer said.
“We’re glad we had the opportunity to come back and do something about it,” Kreutzer stated.
Matthew Saathoff’s penalty kick gave the Chieftains (16-4-1) their only goal. According to Tonganoxie coach Brian Kroll, the senior forward made 12 of 12 penalty kicks during his high school career and finished the season with a school-record 31 goals.
“I can’t say enough about Matt Saathoff,” Kroll said. “He’s a phenomenal player. He’s somebody that knows how to finish. He’s deadly with the ball at his feet.”
Saathoff is among eight players the Chieftains will lose to graduation. Beck was among 10 Topeka-Hayden players to finish with a state title.