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Central soccer team rallies late, beats Notre Dame in PKs
Central soccer coach Dan Martin said Tuesday's night match with new district rival Notre Dame was a character test.
The Tigers proved they have plenty of it.
Central (9-6) stormed back from a 2-0 second-half deficit and buried the Bulldogs (12-4) in penalty kicks.
Central outscored Notre Dame 4-2 in the kicks.
"Tonight was a character test for us," Martin said. "We had a game plan and we wanted to stick to the game plan. They believed in it. Even when we faced adversity their character shined through. We were able to equalize eventually. It was very good. It shows their character."
Perhaps the best example of the Tigers' determination was goalkeeper Austin Bagley.
Bagley, a junior, was fiery in goal all night, especially in penalty kicks.
He saved the first Notre Dame kick with a dive to his left and stopped the third kick with a dive to the right to help the Tigers prevail.
"You kind of watch their knees and how they approach the ball," Bagley said. "And that's what I did tonight."
Added Martin: "PKs are always fun, It's a mindset you have to have. After a 2-2 well-fought game and it just comes down to PKs, it's a tough way to lose. Bagley did fantastic, and their keeper did fantastic. Bagley's always fun to watch in goal."
Bagley made numerous diving saves on balls that appeared headed into the net.
"Defensively, we wanted to try and push them outside and keep them from going through the middle because they are really threatening when they play behind us," Bagley said. "My saves, I was just there for my team, backing them up."
The Bulldogs showed their explosiveness early in the game.
Notre Dame dominated possession in the opening 20 minutes but didn't find the net until 14 seconds remained in the half.
The Bulldogs staved off a Central attack, and the clearance landed at Logan Buchheit's feet. Buchheit played a ball over the top of the Tigers' defense at midfield to Luke Mocherman, who went in all alone on goal.
The senior calmly pushed the ball past a charging Bagley and placed it into the net.
"Luke's an explosive player," Bulldogs coach Brad Wittenborn said. "He's deceptively fast for a big kid. He's been able to get in behind people, and Cape plays fairly flat in the back trying to work that offside trap. They catch us offside once in awhile, but if you have somebody as explosive as Luke it's dangerous, and we got a goal out of it."
Notre Dame made it 2-0 10 minutes into the second half.
Matthew Parsons capitalized on a Tiger mistake in their own territory and slid a ball past Bagley.
"I thought we played pretty well," Wittenborn said. "I thought we attacked well tonight. We created some good chances. I thought their keeper had a strong game, made some nice saves."
The Tigers stuck to their plan despite the 2-0 deficit and time winding down.
It paid off minutes after Parsons' goal.
Central forward Matt Chism buried a rebound to bring the Tigers to within 2-1.
"I was just in the right place at the right time," Chism said. "I got lucky off a rebound. But I put it away, put my chance away. That's what we needed."
Chism wasn't finished.
The senior scored again, this time redirecting a cross in from Eric Craiglow into the net with just under seven minutes to play.
"Honestly, I was just kicking it," Chism said. "I got lucky. I just turned around and scored on them, got a great ball from Eric Craiglow."
The game plan paid off.
"We wanted to do a low-pressure and high-counter attack," Martin said. "We wanted to force them to have to play behind us. If we could keep them in front, we felt like we could kind of be productive on a counter attack."
It was the second time this season the Tigers have beat Notre Dame on penalty kicks.
"I told the team this one's on me," Wittenborn said. "I didn't coach very well. We were up 2-0 and I saw we were out of position, and I needed to take some guys out and talk to them and get them back to focus and the way we played the first half, possessing the ball and defending first. We didn't do that.
"We got caught on the counter attack a couple of times. You're up 2-0, I don't know why you'd want to be gambling and give up counter attacks. That's coaching, and that's on me, and I'll do better next time."