Wayne Christian denied first-ever playoff win
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 21, 2007 2:03 AM
Wayne Christian's Matt Rouse lined up the soccer ball and stared at the goal, silhouetted by moonlight that danced between the clouds.
On the referee's whistle, Rouse struck what appeared to be a well-placed ball toward the left post. He watched and waited as the white-and-black sphere disappeared into darkness.
The next sound drew despair and elation.
Rouse's penalty kick bounced off the post and rolled over the end line. Kerr-Vance keeper Levi Coleman raced off his line and pumped both fists in the air as the Spartans celebrated a 3-2, penalty-kick shootout win over the Eagles.
With the victory, Kerr-Vance (10-11-2 overall) advanced to the quarterfinals of the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Class 1-A playoffs. Wayne Christian concluded the year 12-6-1 and remained winless in four postseason trips.
"Just unlucky," said Eagles coach Daryl Anderson.
Goalkeeper Eric Williams, one of eight Wayne Christian players appearing in his final game, denied the Spartans from converting a PK attempt in regulation to preserve a 1-1 tie. Both teams missed game-winning chances in the final three-plus minutes.
"It should have never gone into overtime," said Anderson.
The teams toiled through 30 scoreless overtime minutes as twilight faded to dusk then pitch-black darkness. The players' visibility on goal in the shootout also diminished, but each team managed to find the net.
Kerr-Vance got goals from Jacob Wemyss, Wesley Ballinger and eighth-grader Chris Mitchell. One other shot sailed over the crossbar.
Hayden Gardner and Matt Davis connected for the seventh-seeded Eagles. Coleman saved one shot while another deflected off the crossbar. Trailing 3-2 with the team's postseason fate resting on his cleats, Rouse settled the ball on the dusty turf.
The Eagles had been here before. They survived a PK shootout against Wilmington Christian more than a month ago.
"Normally, I try not to talk to my players because I think it ices them," said Anderson. "They know what to do when they go up there. I did talk to (Rouse) and said not to hit it hard, but just wide because I didn't think their keeper could dive.
"I thought he'd be slow getting down and couldn't see it."
Coleman knew Rouse had missed his mark.
"I could see it and knew if they tried to put it on the post it would be too dark for them to pinpoint it good," said Coleman. "I was waiting for the ball to be struck and as soon as he hit it, I knew it was wide."
The missed PK concluded the near three-hour affair which featured two evenly-matched teams. Kerr-Vance owned a 17-11 advantage in shots and decisive 8-0 edge in corner kicks. Coleman notched four saves, while the Eagles' Williams recorded eight.
"I thought it was an even game all the way," said Kerr-Vance coach Rick Frampton.
Wayne Christian broke the scoreless tie in the 30th minute.
Gardner pushed a ball into open space toward Jordan Crouthamel, who in turn ripped a right-footed pass into the heart of the Spartans defense. Bradley Yelverton picked up the loose ball and blasted a low, line-drive shot into the right corner past a diving Coleman.
The Eagles protected their one-goal lead until Brooks Parham, Kerr-Vance's lone senior, supplied the equalizer in the 53rd minute. Parham rebounded a deflection off Wayne Christian defender's leg and beat Williams one-on-one to goal.
"The keeper couldn't go back the other way," said Frampton.
Williams stopped consecutive shots within a 10-second span against the Spartans' Xavier Humphrey in the first 10-minute overtime. Neither team could find the mark until the decisive shootout.
The loss marked the final game for Williams and fellow seniors Gardner, Rouse, Davis, Brian Alexander, Jeremy Jefferson, Shea Glaesman and Andrew Radford. The group has played together since they were promoted to varsity as eighth graders.
Despite losing that corps of players, which includes seven starters, Anderson is optimistic that Wayne Christian can continue a high level of play in the future. He'll construct next year's team from a handful of junior varsity players who logged a 6-1-3 worksheet this fall.
"Next year is going to be a rebuilding year. But now I've got players in this program believing they can play with anybody," said Anderson. "It's just a matter of technique, positioning on the field and putting the ball in the net ... finishing plays. I just hate it for our seniors."
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