Agony of Defeat
Indians suffer heartbreaking loss in penalty kicks
by DOUG GORMAN
LILBURN — The Berkmar Patriots did something that no other high school soccer team was able to do before Wednesday.
Namely beat the No. 2 state-ranked East Coweta Indians.
At the bitter end of an otherwise perfect season, penalty kicks decided Berkmar’s 3-2 victory at home in the Georgia High School Association Class AAAAAA State Semifinals.
Instead of the possibility of netting its 20th win of the season and a trip to Saturday’s championship game against Collins Hill, East Coweta was denied in a contest where neither team missed a penalty kick for the first 13 shots attempted.
The 14th, however, by the Indians missed the mark, ending the 2013 season and East Coweta’s best shot to win an elusive state soccer title in recent memory.
“I am so proud of these kids,” said East Coweta head coach Todd Beldon. “We deserve better, but I am so proud of the way we played all year.”
(To view photos from this game, visit http://photos.times-herald.com/mycapture/ and click on Sports for the Photo Gallery.)
A Berkmar graduate, Beldon spent part of Wednesday’s pre-game ritual walking around the stadium at his alma mater.
He would have loved to beat his high school.
Still, he has no regrets about the season.
Both teams had their chances to score in the first overtime with Ian Antley and Jairo Ruiz getting shots on goal for the Indians
Israel Lopez also had a shot on net for the Patriots that was grabbed by Luke Oesterle for the save.
Conner Antley Brandon Baksh, Ryan Wright, Ruiz, Ian Antley and Todd Davis each added penalty kicks in the extra period before Josh Richardson’s just missed the mark on the team’s seventh attempt.
Ian Antley appeared to have had the game winner with 41 seconds left after taking a pass from his brother, but he was called for offsides and the game was decided by penalty kicks.
With the game tied 1-1 at the end of the first half, East Coweta grabbed the momentum and the lead just nine seconds into the second half when Ian Antley put the ball into the back of the net.
The goal came on the Indians’ first trip down the field to open the second half.
East Coweta kept attacking the goal after Antley’s tally.
Ruiz had an opportunity to push the lead to two goals when he put a shot on goal a few minutes later but the ball went wide.
East Coweta’s Antley twins — both headed to Mercer’s Division I program next season — nearly converted a crossing pass when Ian sent the ball over to Conner, but the goal keeper Juan Carlos Lopez made the save.
Ryan Wright and Ruiz made each made a slide tackle just minutes after the Indians’ go-ahead goal to keep East Coweta in possession of the ball.
The Patriots capitalized on a turnover by the Indians to tie the game 2-2 at the 25:11 mark when Gurrea took control of the ball and passed over to Lopez.
Berkmar had a golden opportunity to take the lead with 14 minutes left in the game when Gurrea had an open shot, but Oesterle made a diving save going to his left to knock the ball away.
Berkmar took a 1-0 lead at the 18:23 mark of the first period when Alexis Montanez followed up his missed shot.
Seconds earlier, Oesterle made the save, but the ball kicked back out to Montanez who blasted it into the back of the net about 22 minutes into the game for the first score of the game.
The Indians came back down field and nearly tied the game, but their goal was disallowed on an offsides call.
East Coweta kept the pressure on and add the tying goal with 6:25 left in the first half.
Conner Antley added the tying score when he pulled Berkmar’s keeper out of the net and converted an open shot from a wide angle.
Earlier in the match, both teams had their chances to score.
Berkmar nearly took an early lead around the seven-minute mark when Rocky Gurrea took a cross from Kofi Twumasi and fired the ball at Oesterle, who made a leaping save to knock the ball away.
About four minutes later, Connor Antley had an early chance to put points on the board when he took the ball in the Berkmar box, but his shot at the wide-open net sailed just wide.
Richardson’s indirect kick toward the East Coweta goal gave the Indians another first-half scoring chance by Ian Antley’s header sailed to the right of the net.
Gurrea second shot at the Indians’ goal was too high.
Both teams made some key defensive stands in the first half.
Playing on the back line for the Indians, Richardson, Austin Slaton and Ryan Wright turned away a couple of scoring chances.
Berkmar also kept East Coweta from adding a goal or two during the first 40 minutes.
Aaron Aguirre and Matthew Gallardo made slide tackles for Berkmar to knock the ball away from East Coweta late in the first half.
Berkmar advances to meet county rival Collins Hill in the title game.
EAST COWETA 1 1 — 2 11111 10 —2
BERKMAR 1 1 — 2 11111 11—3
Goals—East Coweta—Conner Antley, Ian Antley, Berkmar—Rocky Gurrera 2