By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
For the second year in a row, the Madison Southern Eagles (13-4-1) downed the Madison Central Indians (8-10-1) in overtime to advance to the championship game of the 44th District Soccer Tournament.
The Eagles came away with a 2-1 win Tuesday in a shootout after the teams were tied 1-1 at the end of regulation and after two five-minute overtime periods.
In the shootout, both team’s first two players — Central’s Kestrin Isufi and Tate Rizenbrink and Southern’s Tyler Conley and Lukas Gabbard — scored on penalty kicks.
After Central’s Caleb Crutcher misfired, Tanner Kidwell scored to put the Eagles up.
Logan Baker’s shot missed high, then Central goalkeeper Ben Durham made a diving stop of Elijah Sexton’s shot to give the Indians one last chance to tie it up.
But, Sexton came up with a huge save on Addison McCoy’s shot to seal the win and send the Eagles into Thursday’s championship game against Model.
“I’m proud of my guys because at any time they could have folded the tent when they saw things weren’t going their way, but we kept getting shots and opportunities in the end and did what we had to do,” Southern coach James Ray said. “I never want to see anything go to a PK shootout because it’s not fair. That’s not how it is supposed to end because it’s not really fair to anybody. But we’ll take it.”
Southern came out with a lot of emotion and was the aggressor from the beginning and seemed to have the Indians back on their heels a bit.
The Eagles put pressure on the Indians defense and had several good looks at the goal, but Durham came up with several big stops to keep them at bay.
Kidwell finally broke the scoreless battle with a goal from the left side with 25:09 remaining and the Eagles went into the half up 1-0.
In the second half it was the Indians who came out with the intensity and aggressive play and really took the game to Southern.
After Sexton stonewalled several Central scoring attempts in the first 20 minutes of the second half, Logan Baker finally got the Indians even when he took a great corner throw and headed the ball past a diving Sexton.
In the second overtime, it was the Eagles who had the upper hand for most of the period, but couldn’t put it in the net. In the final minute of the overtime, the Eagles had a shot bounce off the crossbar and another point-blank shot stopped by Durham, sending it to the shutout.
Central coach Evan Sutherland said he couldn’t have asked more from his team that he got Thursday.
“The first overtime we kind of owned it. The second they owned it and it was just one of those things that could have gone either way,” Sutherland said. “I’m extremely proud of this team. We played five freshmen for most of the game and they came up through big. Ben (Durham) and Addison (McCoy) were solid as a rock in the back and Logan Baker completely controlled midfield in the second half. I couldn’t be prouder of my guys.”
The Eagles take on Model in a rematch of last year’s championship game which the Patriots won 4-3.