TERRE HAUTE —
They should have seen this coming.
After a scoreless draw during the regular season, high school boys soccer teams from Terre Haute South and Northview couldn’t find the goal again Saturday morning, and it took penalty kicks to determine the sectional championship at Terre Haute North.
And in this case, experience was no help. South’s Keaton Vanwey, who had never faced a penalty-kick shootout in his life, stopped one Northview shot while Northview’s Chandler Reeves, a hero Wednesday in the Knights’ penalty-kick victory over the host team, couldn’t duplicate his two-save effort that night as the Braves advanced 0-0 (4-1).
“Throughout the whole game I was pretty nervous,” Vanwey said afterward, “and I got more and more nervous when it looked like it would go into overtime.”
Neither goalkeeper could exactly relax on Saturday, although the majority of shots generated were from long range or off the mark. South had territorial and possession advantages, particularly early, but the Knights had at least as many quality chances.
“We lacked finesse when it came to offense,” South’s Forrest Pommier said afterward. “Our defense held solid the entire game; we just couldn’t finish.”
“It was crazy to have that much possession and create that many chances and not execute,” coach Aaron Nicoson of the Braves added. “Northview does an amazing job of organizing things.”
“We had a lot of good looks. Our [passing game] was working just fine, although [the Braves] might have disrupted some of our one-two-three balls,” coach Ron Kiernicki of the Knights said. “They had speed up top, but we did a good job shutting that down.”
South had an 11-6 edge in shots in the first half, but the Knights came closest to scoring. Vanwey had come out of the net to stop a shot just past the midpoint of the period, but he couldn’t control the rebound and a Northview shot missed an open net.
Vanwey came up big twice early in the second period when some of his teammates may have gotten impatient or frustrated. A hand-ball call against the Braves set up one shot for the Knights that was blocked before it got to goal, but Vanwey was there to stop a blistering rebound shot. Not more than a minute later a South foul set up a free kick, but the keeper was again able to play the shot that resulted from it.
Pommier seemed to settle the Braves by moving from a defensive spot to an attacking position, but now it was Reeves’ turn to shine with four saves in a seven-minute span. Both teams also had corner kicks as the clock wound down, Northview’s attempt tipped away by Vanwey just before the horn.
Shots were harder to come by in the two seven-minute overtime periods, although there were a combined six corner kicks in that time. The Braves had four of those corners, two in the final minute of the second extra period — which wrapped up 174 minutes of scoreless play between the two rivals this season.
The Braves, shooting first, quickly seized the advantage in the shootout. Pommier converted for South, a Northview shot hit the left goal post and then Grant Hammons made it 2-0. Antoney Bryan tallied for Northview, but Caaveh Siahmakoun kept South’s perfect streak alive before Vanwey recorded a save.
Trailing 3-1, Northview needed to make its final two kicks without South scoring again, and that was quickly a moot point. Tony Serrato made it 4 for 4 for the Braves, and the match was over.
“We practice [penalty kicks] a lot, but we don’t go to them [to decide regular-season] games,” Pommier said. He didn’t feel pressure being South’s first shooter, but added, “I felt pressure when my teammates lined up [to shoot]. We were all nervous in the group [of shooters].”
“Today was it,” Vanwey said when asked how many times he’d been in a shootout situation. Describing his strategy as “guess right and react well,” he added, “It was a great job by my shooters, and I’m definitely glad I could save that third one … practice [against PKs] yesterday, execute today.”
It was a frustrating way to end the season for the Knights, whose record was deceiving.
“We had a tough start,” Kiernicki said, “but we grew and we came together at the end of the season. We competed against some premier teams.”
“It was a really good game,” said Nicoson. “I was impressed with the quality of soccer by both teams.”
Northview 0 0 0 0 — 0
Terre Haute South 0 0 0 0 — 0
Terre Haute South wins 4-1 on penalty kicks
Shots (shots on goal) — Northview 16 (6), Terre Haute South 27 (7).
Corner kicks — Northview 3, Terre Haute South 8.
Next — Terre Haute South (6-8-2) plays either Floyd Central or Jeffersonville at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Class 2A Washington Regional. Northview finished 3-10-2.