PREP BOYS' SOCCER: Worthington’s season ends in shootout loss to WillmarWORTHINGTON — There is no greater feeling in soccer than winning in a penalty shootout. On the other hand, there is perhaps no feeling more painful in the sport than coming up short in the same situation. The No. 4 Worthington boys’ soccer team suffered through the latter on Thursday in its Section 2A playoff game against No. 5 Willmar.
WORTHINGTON — There is no greater feeling in soccer than winning in a penalty shootout.
On the other hand, there is perhaps no feeling more painful in the sport than coming up short in the same situation.
The No. 4 Worthington boys’ soccer team suffered through the latter on Thursday in its Section 2A playoff game against No. 5 Willmar.
With the score tied at 1-1 following regulation and two exhilarating overtimes, the Cardinals converted on all five of their penalty kicks to earn a 1-1 (5-3) victory, causing immediate euphoria for the Willmar players and instant heartbreak for the Trojans and a sudden end to their season.
“I didn’t really want the game to end like this,” WHS head coach Vilath Lovan said. “I wish we would have got a few more chances and a bit more patience. We had a couple of times where it was in front of the goal and, I don’t know, they tried to turn instead of shooting the ball.”
WHS was put on the back foot right at the beginning of the contest when the Cardinals scored just 1:05 after the opening kickoff.
Willmar’s Cesar Jimenez received a through ball on the right-hand side to set up a one-on-one opportunity against Trojan goalkeeper Ricardo Maldonado, which Jimenez sent into the left-hand netting at a tight angle.
Worthington had a number of attacks in the remaining minutes of the half, but managed only four shots on goal to show for it.
The Trojans threatened straight away after switching ends at halftime, with the east end of the field proving much easier to produce scoring chances on due to a harsh glare from the sunset to the west of the field.
Hugo Monterroso kicked a bouncing corner 40 seconds into the half that found the feet of Diego Esquivel, but Willmar goalkeeper Charlie Trochlil made a strong save to keep the ball out of the net.
WHS finally broke through when Thun Lay was brought down inside the penalty area 15 minutes into the half.
Esquivel hit a low roller to the middle of the goal on the penalty kick, which Trochlil misjudged by diving to his left, tying the score at 1-1.
Omot Okello had a direct free kick just less than two minutes later, but his effort sailed just over the crossbar.
The Cardinals’ Handerson Tevalan came within inches of scoring with 8:45 left in regulation, but his shot hit the top-right part of the goal frame. His rebound attempt rolled just out of reach of an outstretched Maldonado, but missed wide right. Willmar ended up with a corner, but Tim Rogers’ header missed just over the bar.
Okello had a pair of close-range opportunities in the final two minutes of the second half, but Trochlil saved the first and his second attempt was thwarted before he could get off a clean shot, leaving the score at 1-1 at full time.
Willmar had all three shots on goal in the first 10-minute overtime, but Maldonado saved the best goal-scoring chance of the three off of the foot of Remigio Becerra.
WHS’ Htoo Clay almost scored 2:50 into the second overtime, but his shot hit the right-hand post. After leaving the post the ball bounced off of Trochlil’s back and appeared that it would find the net, but it travelled just wide of the goal to the right.
Okello found the back of the net 32 seconds later, but the goal was disallowed due to an offside call.
The Cardinals appeared in line for one final shot on goal as time expired, but the second overtime ended with WHS’ Darwin Carrillo being fouled as he attempted to thwart a Willmar breakaway.
The Cardinals ended with a slight edge in shots on goal during open play, with 12 compared to 11 for Worthington.
There was some confusion as to how the game would be decided following the end of the second overtime, but eventually the teams lined up for a penalty shootout on the east side of the field.
Willmar went first in the shootout, with David Dominguez converting his kick into the left-hand netting, despite the fact that Maldonado guessed the direction correctly. Thun Lay then converted for the Trojans, hitting the top-right corner.
Jimenez fooled Maldonado with a hard shot to the left-hand side to give the Cardinals a 2-1 lead, but Esquivel tied it back up with a low roller to the right-hand side, which sent Trochlil the other way.
Rogers made the score in the shootout 3-2 with a hard shot straight down the middle that Maldonado dove left on. Okello then converted for the Trojans with a shot to the right-hand side that went in despite Trochlil getting his fingers on it.
Tevalan then scored on a soft shot into the top-right corner that Maldonado guessed incorrectly on to give Willmar a 4-3 advantage. On the Trojans’ next attempt Luis Echeverria put his shot to the right side, but this time Trochlil guessed the direction correctly and got his full body behind the ball for the first save of the shootout.
Jose Hernandez converted the winning penalty on a shot straight down the middle that Maldonado dove to his right on, setting off a Willmar celebration and leaving the Worthington players and fans stunned.
“I think we played good, but sometimes you just can’t do it, I guess,” WHS sophomore Kody Honius said.
Willmar will now travel to face No. 1 Fairmont on Monday, who won 1-0 in a double-overtime affair against Mankato Loyola on Thursday.
The Trojans will look to rebuild with nine seniors graduating — Maldonado, Robert Cambara, Javier Vasquez, Oo Aye Sit, Lay, Clay, Echeverria, Jared Kinley and Abdissa Tibesso.
“They really helped us a lot and they were working with us a lot,” Honius said. “They were keeping us positive and just helping us do our best.”
Willmar 1 0 0 0 (5) — 1 (5)
WHS 0 1 0 0 (3) — 1 (3)