High School Soccer
Second wind: Hawks able to rally past Trinity in PKs
by Chris Goltermann
When it comes to private school athletics, even among student bodies at GISA Class AAA programs like those at The Heritage School and Trinity Christian, coaches have to find every possible way they can to add depth within the lineup.
And it sure helps Hawks head soccer coach Nathan Watts to have a 6-foot-3 All-State football and All-Region basketball center roaming the hallways come spring time.
Facing penalty kicks for the first time since joining Heritage as a rookie soccer goalie, Cole Jones made four stops on nine attempts including the game-winner on a final shot from Trinity’s Alec Collins toward the left post that seemed destined to keep a marathon match going into a potential 10th round.
Instead, the Heritage sophomore came up with the ball in his arms on a diving stop before racing toward his teammates at midfield to celebrate a 3-2 victory over the host Lions that put the Hawks a leg up on their crosstown and Region 1-AAA rivals for now.
Heritage improved its record to 7-1 overall and 4-1 in division play after getting a hand — or two — from their first-year keeper.
“I’ve never been a part of anything like that kind of game,” said Watts, adding of Jones. “He’s never played before. We pleaded with him to come out and jump in net. It helps when you have an All-State tight end. He’s one of the most coachable kids.”
Jones stopped four of Trinity’s nine kicks in a wild final session that needed a pair of saves from the football and basketball standout just to extend penalty kicks past the initial five attempts.
Jones admitted he just went with gut instinct, relying solely on hand-eye coordination.
“I tried to go the way they were shooting during the game, but it was tough,” he said. “I was beginning to think my luck was going to run out.”
After each team converted kicks No. 5 and 6, both lineups missed four straight including saves by both Jones and Lions counterpart Josiah Gordon, who equally helped Trinity stay in the game.
But Gordon’s teammates struggled to hit their spots, missing their final three attempts, two on stops by Jones and the other rolling wide of the left post.
In the process, the Hawks handed a Trinity team coming off a rout of Tattnall Square its first loss of the season while equally tightening the standings in 1-AAA on a bitter day in early spring where the wind took turns acting as a 12th man for either side through 90 deadlocked minutes of regulation.
“We just didn’t show up,” said Trinity head coach Chad Whittle. “We were coming off a 6-0 win against Tattnall. I think they wanted it more than we did. The good thing is we have them again [on April 17] and right now the goal differential is just one.”
Trinity may have been kicking itself afterwards while watching both a 2-1 advantage at halftime and a 2-0 lead in the penalty kick round go astray.
Gordon equally held his own before going save for save with Jones through nine penalty kicks.
Several times, the Lions keeper charged out of net to boot balls out of the reach of Heritage forwards before making a sliding stop to his right in the last of two overtime periods after the Hawks won the coin flip and opted for the wind during the latter five-minute session.
Storm-force winds that blew more east to west between sidelines at the start of the game eventually became a direct force toward one of Trinity’s end zones on a day that would have made football field goals a breeze.
“[The wind] took us out of our normal game,” said Watts. “It mostly was a crosswind at first but it
Heritage scored both the opening and closing goals prior to overtime on tallies by David Martin in the 17th minute and Cole Bridges in the 52nd, first putting pressure on Trinity and then rallying with a 20-plus mph wind at its back.
With the wind in their face in the first half, Heritage was able to get on the scoreboard first. Martin broke free alone while running onto a pass behind the Lions defense and outraced Gordon to the ball, before touching it past the charging Trinity keeper.
But the Lions later were able to take control of the wind, pouncing on the Hawks for a pair of goals over a 10-minute span late in the first half to take a 2-1 lead into the break.
Jordan Flagg tied the game for Trinity with a header to the far post off a delivery from Lions teammate Caleb Hess following a free kick with 12:46 left in the opening half.
A simple throw in then instigated Trinity’s tying goal when Will Townsend corralled it and launched a cross toward the left wing that found teammate Korey McGinnis in a crowd of players.
Trinity’s lead lasted for 13 minutes of the second half with the Hawks using the wind to push forward toward the Lions net. A Heritage free kick off the right side was sent to the middle of the box where Bridges redirected it with a header into the net, tying the game.