Model freshman Marlowe Smith had been preparing for a moment like this all season.
Smith made sure that whenever the Patriots practiced penalty kicks, he took the drill seriously, just in case his team called on him to convert one at a crucial time.
That crucial time came Saturday night when Smith stepped up to the line with a chance to give Model a district championship.
Smith calmly drilled a shot into the right corner, giving the Patriots a 2-1 (4-2 penalty kicks) victory Saturday night against Madison Central in the 28th District Tournament championship game.
“I knew I had to make this to win
it,” Smith said of the penalty kick. “I knew I was going for the right side and I knew I was going to bury it. It felt like just another day in practice.”
Central won the coin toss and elected to go first in penalty kicks.
The move may have backfired as Model goalkeeper Turner Curtis dove to his left to save a shot by Jordan Johnson, who wound up to the side and ran at the ball in an angle like a question mark.
“I’ve always been taught to just pick a side and dive,” Curtis said. “I knew he was left-footed and when he did the curl around, I knew he was going to my left side.”
“It’s an adrenaline rush,” he said of being in penalty kicks.
Mike Hughes drove a shot into the left corner to give Model a quick 1-0 lead.
Daniel Parke got Central back into it by going right-center for a score, but Model’s Taylor Gentry blasted a shot in the upper right corner for a 2-1 lead.
Central’s Austin McAlister and Model’s Andrew Wylie each made shots, giving Model a 3-2 lead with two rounds remaining.
Central’s Rafa Garcia, who only played a few minutes at the end of the game Saturday and sat out most of the semifinal game with an injury, pushed a shot just wide, putting Model in position where one more goal, or one more save, would give the Patriots the victory.
Model coach Steve Savage called for Smith to step back and switch positions with No. 5 shooter Hunter Conner, the Patriots leading scorer, but Smith didn’t hear him and stepped into the box and scored the game-winner.
“Both teams really wanted it,” Savage said. “It was really a hard fought game.”
Model scored first.
Ten minutes into the game Wylie went right, crossed to the left to Conner, who dribbled into the corner, worked around a defender, turned and drilled a shot into the back of the goal.
Central tied the game with 29 minutes remaining.
Johnson took a free kick from just past midfield, sending the ball to the right side of the box to Parke, who headed the ball into the left corner.
Both teams had opportunities to win late.
The biggest chance came with 3:24 remaining when Central’s Chris Lewis had the ball wide open in front of the net.
He aimed for the left corner, but Curtis made a diving save to preserve the tie.
“We didn’t work as hard in the first half,” Central coach Jeremy Anderson said. “We worked a little harder in the second, but too bad it came down to penalty kicks.”
Both teams advance to the Region 14 tournament, which begins Tuesday. Model (14-1-3) will play Lafayette (11-7-3) and Central (11-9) take on Paul Laurence Dunbar (12-9-1).
District 28 All Tournament Team
Model: Hunter Conner, John Reisig, Eric Yoder, Andrew Wylie: Madison Central: Chris Lewis, Zach Owsley, Austin McAlister; Madison Southern: Alex Sipple, Matthew Coldwell; Berea: Major McGraw, Ben Miller: Estill County: Brandon Toler.