|Lucky No. 8: Wildcats win first playoff game on eight shooter of shootout|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
March 29, 2006 - LINDALE - When Cole Lancaster's shot glanced off the Whitehouse goal keeper and rolled toward the net in Sulphur Springs' sudden death shootout on Tuesday, everyone in Lindale's Eagle Stadium held their breath.
It turned out to be the calm before the storm.
Lancaster's shot made it into the net before the keeper could scramble back to get it, and the rest of the Wildcats mobbed him as Sulphur Springs prevailed in the shootout, 5-4, in the area round of the Class 4A soccer playoffs.
Lancaster was the eighth shooter in the shootout after the teams tied 1-1 in regulation then played two scoreless 10-minute overtime periods.
Sulphur Springs trailed 4-3 in the shootout before Daniel Santillan put a goal over the keeper's shoulder to tie it, then SSHS goal keeper Jeremy Potter made a diving kick save at the top of the 18-yard box to keep the game tied and set up Lancaster's shot. Potter blocked half of Whitehouse's eight shootout attempts.
Lancaster came up and fired a shot from 18 yards out that bounced high off the shoulder of the diving goalie, who had come 13 or 14 yards off his line. The ball hit behind the goalie and started rolling toward the net. Before the goalie could scramble back to get it, the ball crossed the line, ending the three-hour game.
"There was about five different times I thought we were going to lose, and five different times I thought we were going to win," said a jubilant SSHS head coach Andy Holt, whose team improved to 23-4. "There were so many mixed emotions. One time you think you're going to win, then you turn around and think you're going to lose.
"Our guys just rose up and played very well. It's been three years of knocking at the door where we just couldn't get it in. Tonight, we overcame it and rose to the challenge. Our guys did a great job of that."
It gave the Wildcats their first playoff win since 2000 and they will be the third team in school history to advance to the regional quarterfinals, where they will face Athens, probably on Friday. A site has not yet been determined.
Daniel Santillan gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead nine minutes into the game when he one-timed a goal off a corner kick by Jon Holt. The ball sailed over the head of Spenser Daniel, who has 10 goals this year on headers, and Santillan was there to clean it up.
"When we went up 1-0 early, it was the first time we've scored in a playoff game in three years," Holt said. "I knew that was definitely a relief. We kept battling and kept battling."
The Wildcats kept the shutout until late in the second half behind the defense of sweeper Brent Holly and defensemen Wilfredo Larios, Graham Northcutt and Spenser Daniel. But, Whitehouse's Dayton Longfellow headed a throw-in just inside the right pole to tie the game with 7:06 to play in regulation.
Thirty seconds later, Whitehouse's Steven Hicks had a break-away, but was called for a penalty when he knocked down Northcutt before putting the ball in the net. Then, Northcutt, Daniel and Brent Holly all headed out corner kick attempts by Whitehouse in the final two minutes of regulation.
That set up a pair of overtime periods in which the Wildcats outshot Whitehouse, 7-1, but couldn't get the winning goal across. Whitehouse had one shot on goal in OT, and that was on a free kick from 30 yards out which Potter caught easily. He ended up with 12 saves.
The Wildcats' final shot in OT came with 4 seconds remaining when Santillan tried a backward bicycle kick that sailed over the goal.
In the shootout, Daniel, Blake Holly and Brent Holly all scored for SSHS, while Whitehouse matched the attack with goals from Paul Metzner, Chris Carter and Hicks.
That sent the game into a sudden death. Both goalies made saves on the first shooters, then Justin Seal made a goal for Whitehouse and Santillan answered it for Sulphur Springs, bringing up Lancaster.
"Anybody can win in a shootout, really. It just shows that because we went to the eighth shooter," Holt said. "Keepers come up big, players come up big in that situation, and our players came up a little bit bigger than theirs, therefore we won the game.
"Cole made a great shot there at the end. It just glanced off that keeper and kept trickling in."