HAGERSTOWN -- They aren't used during regular-season play and rarely do teams practice them but in last night's state Class 1A semifinal at South Hagerstown, penalty kick were the only thing standing between two teams.
After two 40 minute halves, a pair 10 minute overtimes and 20 shootout kickers Wilde Lake (12-2-1) emerged victorious with a 2-1 win over second-seeded Fallston (12-3).
Tied 1-1 after double overtime the Wildecats outscored the Cougars 7-5 in the shootout to gain a spot in Saturday's 2:30 state title game at Old Mill. Wilde Lake will play the winner of last night other semifinal between Clear Spring and Easton.
"You just have to pick a spot in the goal, visualize it and go for
it," said Wilde Lake coach Dave Nesbitt, whose team converted seven of its 10 attempts. "On penalty kicks, all the pressure is put on the shooter."
Don't tell that to Wildecats goalie Todd Bradford. After making several crucial saves during the game, he snuffed three Fallston penalty kicks with diving saves.
"You can follow the ones that are lobs while they are in the air," said Bradford. "But the other ones you just have to guess on. I guessed correctly on more than half their shots tonight."
Fallston had several chances to score in the first half but couldn't convert until just over 1:00 was left in the half. The Cougars' Chris Luber got the ball 20 yards out on the left side and centered it to Tom Gould. Gould tapped it to Shane Dougherty who used his left foot to turn on the ball, made a move to his right, then fired a shot just inside the near post to make it 1-0.
In the second half Wilde Lake became the aggressor, firing the first four shots of the half. The Wildecats tied it at 1-1 with 22:12 left when Matt Nesbitt found Hamisi Amani-Dove all alone near the far post. Amani-Dove pushed a grounder past Cougars goalie Steve Chaires.
"It's a tough way to lose but it's not the end of the world," said Fallston coach Len Petry. "I have a feeling down deep inside that we lost to the eventual state champion."