Rosewood-Neuse Charter soccer

Logan Price picked up the slick ball and rubbed it dry as he walked toward the dot inside the penalty box.

He placed it down on the wet pitch, took a deep breath and waited for the official’s whistle.

“I put this in your hands, Lord,” Price prayed.

Seconds later, the junior defender’s right-footed strike settled into the back of the net and his Rosewood teammates stormed the field to celebrate a not-so-easy, 4-2 penalty-kick shootout win over Neuse Charter on Tuesday evening.

The Carolina 1-A rivals played to a 2-2 draw after 80 minutes of regulation and two 5-minute overtime sessions at Branch Pope Field.

“On senior night, you want it to be a little bit easy,” RHS head coach Eddie Maldonado said.

This one certainly wasn’t.

Surrounded by multiple Neuse Charter defenders from the opening kickoff, senior striker Geovanni Abrill drew a hard foul inside the box around the nine-minute mark. He easily converted the PK to give the Eagles a 1-0 advantage.

Rosewood had few chances from that point.

Neuse Charter’s pressure tactics and physical play prevented the Eagles (12-6-1 overall, 9-3 Carolina) from pinging the ball around the field and creating opportunities on goal. The Cougars constantly stepped into open spaces, disrupted Rosewood’s offensive flow and mounted counter attacks.

“We weren’t playing at the speed we should have played … the ball movement, running off the ball, then their physicality took us out of what we wanted to do,” Maldonado said. “Sometimes our boys don’t really understand physical from dirty. They come flying in, they’re playing hard, they’re coming in to tackle.

“They did a great job tonight.”

The Cougars leveled the game at 1-1 on Jackson Hester’s shot — a misclear by the Eagles’ defense that rolled loose near the 18-yard box.

About 10 minutes later, sophomore William Gaskins connected on a right-footed blast to put Neuse Charter in front 2-1.

“We weren’t really quick with the ball,” Price said. “It didn’t get us down. We kept fighting, kept fighting and came out with a ‘dub’ [W].”

In miraculous fashion, no less.

Despite its frustrations, Rosewood started its phenomenal finish in the 80th minute on a free kick by Hayden Maldonado that curled toward the left post. It didn’t go in and the Eagles’ bench groaned in despair until Wyatt Searles slipped into the box unmarked by the NC defense.

“I saw the ball float up in the air and I thought it was going to go into goal,” Searles said. “One of my teammates, I called him off. The ball was rolling on the ground, I saw an opening to the goal and I just knocked it in with my left foot.”

Searles’ second goal of the season knotted the affair at 2-all with 38 seconds on the clock.

Neither team threatened in the first OT and three potential game-clinching shots went by the wayside in the second extra session.

Keeper Ben Peacock set the tone as the PK shootout began.

The freshman net-minder stopped a point-blank attempt by Drew Sipes that amped up his teammates’ intensity. Rosewood got successful PKs from Hayden Maldonado, Logan Mitchell and Abrill.

Then came Gaskins’ miss that clanged off the football crossbar.

Price took his turn.

“I just went up there and hit,” he said.

And gave the Eagles’ six seniors — Abrill, Colby Hooks, Searles, Noah Bates, Jacob Smith and Yacob Abduh — a night they’ll remember for years to come.