With the team’s game against defending 3A state champion Urbana headed to penalty kicks on Saturday night, River Hill junior goalie Patrick Sherlock told himself all he needed to make was one save.
In the end, he ended up doing himself one better.
Sherlock made two stops out of the three kicks he faced in the shootout, while his Hawks’ teammates converted all four of their attempts, and River Hill earned a 4-1 victory in penalty kicks after the two teams played to a 1-1 tie during regulation.
“Honestly, PK’s when it’s just the shooter and the goalie, it’s mostly mental. So for me, I was focused completely on the ball and doing whatever I could to just make one save,” Sherlock said. “I knew that if I stopped one, my teammates would do the rest and that’s exactly what they did.
“Stopping the second one, I guess that just made their job a little easier.”
It was the third straight win to open the season for River Hill and for a team that starts just four seniors, Hawks’ coach Matt Shagogue said he couldn’t be more proud of where his team is at this early in the year.
“I’m really happy because we are really young everywhere and I’ve seen improvement from us every game so far,” Shagogue said. “Look, last year we were sitting here at 0-2 at this point, so there’s a lot to build on going forward for us. That’s a good team we just played tonight.”
On the other side, Urbana dropped its third game in the last 24 hours. The team had opened on Friday with a 3-2 loss to Churchill and then followed that up with a 2-1 loss against Liberty on Saturday morning in its first game of the River Hill tournament.
But despite suffering another defeat against River Hill in the tournament finale, Urbana coach Scott Schartner said he saw some positives — particularly quickly bouncing back after allowing the game’s first goal and then not allowing any more goals while playing a man-down for the final 53 minutes after a red card.
“You hate to ever-use the term, but tonight falls in the category of a ‘good loss.’ The fact that we did go down a goal, then down a man, and the boys then showed a whole lot of character and a whole lot of fight to play to a tie during regulation … it says a lot,” Schartner said.
Both River Hill and Urbana took the first 10 minutes to settle in, with the first shot of the game coming by River Hill from outside the box in the 12th minute. Things, however, picked up from there.
River Hill ended up breaking through first with 20:55 left in the first half off a corner kick. Freshman Jed Dixon lofted the ball into the box and fellow freshman Jonah Stoutenborough made a run on the far post and deflected the ball in to the back of the net for his first varsity goal.
The lead was short-lived, though, as Urbana countered just over a minute later by scoring on its own set piece. A long throw from the right sideline by Luke Roberton bounced around in the box for a few seconds before Cory Barnes pounced and fired the ball into the back of the net to tie the score at 1-1.
Both teams forced the opposing goalie to make a few stops going into halftime, but things remained deadlocked at the break. Urbana was assessed its red-card for a dangerous play in the midfield with 13 minutes left in the first half.
River Hill, playing a man up, controlled the ball almost the entire second half and had several quality chances. Still, nothing found the back of the net before the buzzer sounded at the end of regulation.
“The second half, granted they had tired legs and were a man-down, but we lived in their side of the field and I felt like we were right there several times,” Shagogue said.
The game went immediately to penalty kicks and River Hill went first. Justin Harris made his kick and then the rest of his Hawks’ teammates kept the ball rolling. Urbana made its first kick as well, but after that Sherlock took over.
He made a pair of stops diving to his right to allow River Hill’s fourth kicker Dixon to step up with a chance to seal the win. He fired a hard shot off the goalie’s hands and was swarmed by a stampede of teammates just outside the box.
“Obviously in PKs we ended up getting it done, but overall it was just a really good effort especially with emotions changing so much,” Sherlock said. “We really stayed focused, which I thought was good.”
River Hill 1, Urbana 1 (4-1 RH in penalty kicks)
Goals: RH – Stoutenborough; U – Barnes.
Assists: RH – Dixon.
Saves: RH – Sherlock 7; U – Orens 3, Sherrill 4.
Half: 1-1; Regulation: 1-1.
Reach Brent Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @BKBSunSports