Eagles edge Key School on penalty kicks for the MIAA C Conference title
by Joe DiBlasi
Indian Creek copped the MIAA C Conference crown, winning 2-1 over Key School, on penalty kicks, at CCBC-Essex on Sunday afternoon.
The teams were tied at 1-1 after 80 minutes in regulation, and it stayed that way after two 10-minute overtime periods, forcing the game to be decided on penalty kicks.
The PK shootout went down to the ninth player before the Eagles’ Danny Swope got one past Zags’ keeper Luke Nespole to give Indian Creek the championship.
“I didn’t think that I’d even be taking a shot [going nine players deep], and I really didn’t think that I’m that good at it, but my teammates encouraged me, and inspired me,” said Swope. “Usually I go right in practice, but I decided to go left in the game today, and I put it in.”
Eagles’ captain Mike Mercer said the key (no pun intended) to victory was a switch in formations.
“We switched things up at half-time, when we were down 1-0, and it lead to more chances,” said Mercer. “We had a few breaks and Rex (Flanagan) put that amazing free kick in, and we pulled it out.”
Key carried a 1-0 lead on a first half goal by Juan Fernandez-Perz, on a perfect feed from Danny Fagbohunka, which stood up until Flanagan curled in a free kick from the 30 with 7:25 to go in regulation.
Flanagan described his huge game-tying goal.
“I went up and I saw that their wall was a little off center, and I saw their goalie was to his right a little, so I started bending it top left, and it went in,” said Flannagan. “We practiced our penalty kicks over, and over, and over and today it helped us obtain an incredible win.”
Indian Creek keeper Levi Kline had 12 saves on the day, two of which were crucial in the shoot-out.
Deflecting praise, Kline gave credit to teamwork and to Swope.
“We worked together well as a team, we practiced hard as a team, and Danny (Swope) put it in when we needed it.”
Eagles’ coach Jonathan Burns said, “I give all the credit to the boys. They fought hard all season, and we always talked about having mental toughness, and mental fortitude. We got great leadership from all 11 seniors all season, and especially today.”
Key finished first at the conclusion of the C conference regular-season, but they came up just short of winning the championship on Sunday. Coach Dylan Lewis said, “You wish there was a different way to decide the championship [other than on penalty kicks].
“We had enough opportunities in the first 80 minutes to win it, but we just couldn’t get that second goal. They got a set piece and scored and we had two balls that hit the post that almost went in today. Credit to Indian Creek. They never gave up and they held their nerve in the shootout.”
MIAA C CONFERENCE SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIP
INDIAN CREEK 2, KEY 1
ICS 0 1 – 0 0 — (6)
KEY 1 0 – 0 0 — (5)
GOALS: ICS-Flanagan, KEY-Fernandez-Perz.
SAVES: ICS-Kline 12; KEY-Nespole 8.
KEY — Nick Beed – make.
ICS — Rex Flanagan – make
KEY — Augie Irving – make
ICS — Benny Carter – make
KEY — Ahaghotu Uchenna – miss (off post)
ICS — Shaem Spencer – miss (wide left)
KEY — Danny Fagbohunka – make
ICS — Mike Mercer – make
KEY — Patrick Tormey miss – (off right post)
ICS – Tyler Sheppard miss – (over top bar_
KEY — Chris Bulmer – make
ICS — Zim Ibe – make
KEY — Hudson Smith – make
ICS – Callum Walker – make
KEY — Owen Fleming – miss (on keeper save)
ICS — Sudan Wilson-Gumbs – miss (on keeper save)
KEY — Marshall Tanz – miss (over top bar)
IC — Danny Swope – make