Rematch solidified: Pats survive, Rangers sailOctober 10, 2013
By JOE JASINSKI
Herald Sports Writer
LINCOLN CITY — He’s a person of few words, but the moment didn’t call for many.
Without having scored a goal all season, Collin Snyder buried Heritage Hills’ fifth and final penalty kick into the lower right corner, giving the Patriots a 4-3 advantage in Wednesday’s shootout.
South Spencer’s fifth shooter then sailed a shot over the goal, securing Heritage Hills’ 3-2 comeback win over county rival South Spencer in the Class 1A boys soccer semifinals in Lincoln City. The sequence sent Patriot players rushing into a mob along the field’s end line, where they converged with a raucous student section in jubilant bedlam.
So how did the senior feel when he approached the PK spot with the score knotted up?
“Pretty scared,” Snyder admitted with a chuckle.
The focus? As simple as it gets.
“Just put it in the net.”
The notion harmonized succinctly with the message Patriot coach Joe Asbury preached to his team going into the sectional skirmish. And as Heritage Hills (12-4-1) gears up for Saturday’s championship against conference foe Forest Park (10-3-3), which bagged a 10-0 win against Tell City in Wednesday’s second match, the message remains the same.
“Survive and advance,” Asbury said. “We talked about that the last couple days. We don’t have to win by a lot, we just have to make sure we stay in it and give ourselves a chance to advance to the next game.”
Asbury’s message to his players heading into the shootout held an unusually light tone for such a heavy situation. Stay loose, have confidence and above all, have some fun with it.
Electing Snyder as the anchor brought Asbury no reservations.
“The thing about Collin is he’s a leader. He’s confident. And he’s a competitor. So we put him in there in a situation where there’s a lot of pressure, and he gets it done. And when he made that, then we really felt good about our chances. … I didn’t second-guess at all using Collin Snyder.”
After all, it was the center back’s play alongside the other Patriot defenders during the game’s 94 minutes that enabled the opportunity in the first place.
After Rebel standout Shane Shelton delivered both South Spencer finishes to sink the Patriots into a 2-1 halftime deficit, Heritage Hills’ defense hunkered down. Snyder, Torrin Madden, Colin Curtis and other Patriots persistently double-teamed the Rebels’ main threat, while Drew Grass held the speedy Vincent Acosta at bay on the left wing, fusing speed with strength to curtail Acosta’s ability on the outside.
Midway through the second half, the Patriots finally located the equalizer. After Seth Bolin’s cross from the right wing was partially tipped, Donovan Aders elevated to bury a header into the bottom right corner.
As he guarded the near post on a corner kick for the Rebels (8-7-2) a minute later, Bolin cleared away a sizzling Shelton header that appeared destined for the net, preserving the tie as tension mounted.
“It’s not up to one person,” said Patriot goalkeeper Nick Waninger, who stoned South Spencer’s second shooter during PKs and came within inches of turning away Shelton’s ensuing penalty kick.
“It was a good team effort,” Waninger added. “Down a little in the beginning but by the end, we picked it up.”
Between watching its girls team survive in penalty kicks Tuesday night and looking on as the Patriots advanced Wednesday, Forest Park wasted no time establishing an up-tempo pace against Tell City, which the Rangers had dismissed 7-1 in the regular season.
And though it took the Rangers some 18-plus minutes to finally register its first tally Wednesday, Forest Park squandered few opportunities after that, putting the contest out of reach by halftime.
“That’s the energy I wanted to see,” Ranger coach Brent Sicard said.
“And I wanted to see them push right from the beginning and we did. We were right down their throats, didn’t let them breathe, really.”
Dakota Begle, Ben Englert and Spenser Sermersheim each tallied a pair of goals for the Rangers (10-3-3), who rested most starters for a significant portion of the second half.
Particularly inspired was Ranger junior Cole Henke, whose previous two postseasons were cut short because of injuries. After the Forest Park defender’s 40-yard bomb grazed the top of the crossbar with 11 minutes remaining in the first half, Henke connected on a 25-yard strike to balloon the lead to 4-0 some three minutes later. One minute, he pushed into the attack. The next, he retreated to make a timely slide tackle on one of the few counterattacks for the Marksmen (1-12).
Even with the expected result, energy from Henke was never a concern.
“There isn’t anything that doesn’t get him fired up,” Sicard said of Henke. “He’s ready to go every game. He was saying before the game, ”˜You’re not going to take any of us (defenders) out. We want to keep the shutout.’
“He’s a ball of fire.”
Unfortunately, Henke couldn’t elude the injury bug this season, either, as evidenced by the pseudo club he wore Wednesday on his right hand — a soft, cushy bandage wrapped around a hard cast earned when he broke his ring finger executing a slide tackle in the Rangers’ tussle with Evansville Mater Dei on Sept. 26.
“He’s got a broken (hand) because he plays so hard,” Sicard joked.
Saturday’s championship, slated for 2 p.m. EDT, presents a rematch of two Pocket Athletic Conference powers who have amassed double-digit wins in the same season for the first time since 2005.
As Henke assured, the Rangers are poised to try and collect their second straight sectional.
“We’re ready,” Henke said. “We’re ready to go.”
For Heritage Hills, it’s about maintaining the momentum from its chaotic comeback.
“We’re going to try to keep it going here, have confidence in ourselves and try to beat Forest Park,” Snyder said.
Contact Joe Jasinski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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