Southwestern High School senior Man Patel sent in the final shot to give the Southwestern Warriors soccer team a 3-2 victory over their cross-county rivals, the Pulaski County Maroons, and advance them to the semi finals of the 12th Region tournament by way of a sudden death shootout (6-5).
After a scoreless second period, and two scoreless overtime periods, the game had to be decided by the shootout. Four of five players for each team had successful attempts in the first shootout period.
In the sudden death shootout period, each team’s first shooter sent it in no problem to even up the shootout at 5-5.
After a miss by Pulaski, senior Man Patel stepped up. Patel knocked his shot just out of reach of the Maroon goalkeeper Riley Howell to give the Warriors the win.
“I’m almost speechless right now,” said Southwestern head coach Sean McBride. “The kid that hit the last shot, I’m so happy for him. He doesn’t even play much in games. He’s a senior and I’m just thrilled for him.”
Early in the game, the Warriors came out of the gate ready for battle. With just under thirty-nine minutes left in the opening period senior Dylan Stevens put in a ball from just outside of the box. Howell just missed the attempt and Southwestern went up 1-0.
Later in the first half, junior Carson Albright took a pass from John Noyola and booted it just out of the reach of Howell to add another with just over twenty-five minutes on the clock.
Pulaski added their first goal with just over seventeen minutes left in first when Klisman Morales-Ortiz carried out down field and took a hard shot. Warrior goalkeeper Caleb Seward attempted the save a little early and just missed it.
Towards the end of the half with about seven and a half minutes left, junior Jaxon Gambill took a hard attempt from the left corner and sent it just out of Seward’s reach in the right corner of the net to even the score up 2-2.
It was a relentless battle throughout the second half and overtime periods. Pulaski fought hard but fell just short in the sudden death shootout to give Southwestern the 12th Region tournament victory and send them to the semifinals.
“We started the game down 0-2 and we could’ve easily just packed our crap up and went home. We fought back and we fought back, and we fought back,” said Pulaski County Maroon head coach Darrell McGahan. “I can’t be any more proud of this team. It sucks that it has to end this way, but I’m proud, so proud. Our seniors fight. Zack Rowe was hurt and sick and went on the PK line there, ready to go…They stepped up and pushed us through this game. They are the ones he pushed us. They didn’t let anybody quit and I’m so proud of them. All seven of them.”
“These kids played their hearts out, both teams did,” said coach McBride. “It really sucks that someone had to lose this game. The effort that both teams put into it. PC played great. Honestly, I thought the out played us. There were times that we were just completely out of control. We weren’t playing he way I want them to play and how they’re coached to play. If we’re going to advance we have to play better soccer…It was a good game but we have to play better tomorrow if we want to win.”