A penalty kick happens for two reasons in soccer. First, for a foul against the attacking team in the box, and secondly, to determine the winning side after a tie game. Maryville men and women’s soccer teams saw their seasons end due to both reasons in their respective USA South Conference Semifinal matches.
The Championship Field at Smith River Complex in Martinsville, Virginia hosted the two-day tournament a day after 13 Scots were awarded All-Conference honors at the USA South postseason banquet.
Three Scots, Ashley Howarth, Alexis Franco and Tim Baker, received First Team All-Conference awards, and coach Pepe Fernandez was named the USA South Coach of the Year separately for both the Men’s and Women’s seasons.
Sierra Siegel, Rachel Leal, Lydia Fuson, Ally Hale, Taylor Emerson, Payne Fisher, Patrick Braxton, Sean Yoder and Ben Munger also received awards.
The regular season champion Lady Scots faced off against Methodist College in their semifinal match. Early in the game the Scots struggled to find their feet on the unfamiliar turf field. It wasn’t until a Methodist goal early in the second half that the number one seeded Scots showed some life.
The Scots bombarded the Methodist goal for the remainder of the second half, but were denied time and time again by Methodist keeper, Kelsey Hopper. It wasn’t until the 73rd minute that Scots finally broke through when Sierra Siegel played a ball through to Senior All-Conference forward Ashley Howarth, who rounded the Methodist keeper and leveled the score. The game remained even through the end of regulation and into overtime. Despite a great chance from Taylor Emerson that bounced off the corner of the crossbar, the goal-less overtime ended the game in a draw.
Penalty kicks came into play to decide who would advance to the next day’s championship. In the PK shoot out, five penalty kick takers from each team square off one on one with the opposing team’s keeper from 12 yards out.
It is a dramatic, intense, and for one team, a guaranteed heartbreaking way to end a game. The previous 110 minutes make no difference as tired legs and minds step up to the spot. The Scots failed to convert twice, and the draw ended 4-2.
The second match of the afternoon pitted the Maryville men’s team against Greensboro College. Similar to their counterparts, the Scots conceded an early goal that they had to bounce back from. That rebound was provided by young, reliable Junior midfielder Payne Fisher who fired a shot from 25 yards out that looped over the former Conference Player of the Year, Greensboro keeper Manbi Nyepon.
The Scots were back into the game in a big way. However, 13 minutes later a ball played over the top to Greensboro Forward Sean Watt resulted in a collision from Maryville Keeper Ben Munger and Watt. Munger punched the ball away but crashed into the oncoming Watt.
In all respects, it was a solid save by Munger. The referee, on the other hand, disagreed and awarded Greensboro a penalty for the play, which was then converted by George Dimopolous.
Bias included, it was a terrible call to make in a tournament game. Bias aside, it was a bad call to make in a tournament game.
Trailing again, the Scots pressed forward and probably produced the highest quality of soccer they had played all season. Despite their great performance, they couldn’t find the back of the net. Tension rose as the Scots threw more and more players forward, but they never found the equalizer. At full time the score was still 2-1, the difference between the two teams remained the penalty kick that Dimopolous converted.
The losses marked the second straight year that the Lady Scots have lost in the semifinals, and represented the furthest the men’s team has ever made it in USA South play.
With the end of the season for the two programs, it’s time to remember the senior class that has played their last game in orange and garnet. It’s also time for the teams to recognize that there’s always next year, and for these two soccer programs, next year is as promising as ever.
The graduating seniors have been one of the most successful in Maryville history.
The Class of 2014 Lady Scots graduated with an overall record of 48-15-8. Their careers were highlighted by one NCAA tournament appearance and by leading the team to the first regular season USA South Conference Championship.
The men’s graduating seniors were 37-28-6, even with their difficult and disappointing 2012 season, and had their careers highlighted by two conference championships.
Looking forward, both teams are primed to improve. A large freshman class came in this year and didn’t play like freshman.
Combined there were eight consistent starters from the newcomers and the men’s team will only lose one starter heading into next season.
While heads may be hanging low, sights are still certainly aimed forward.