ELDERSBURG — Kyle Kropfelder treated himself to a clear plastic cup filled with chocolate milk after Saturday afternoon’s thrilling boys soccer playoff game between Century and South Carroll.
The beverage was only part of his reward — the senior forward scored two goals, the second of which came early in double overtime and lifted the Knights past the Cavaliers 2-1 in a Class 2A West Region 1 semifinal.
Kropfelder converted from close range amid an aggressive push by Century (11-4), which withstood a charge from South Carroll throughout the first overtime. The Knights simply refused to have their season ended at home against a county rival, Kropfelder said.
“It was really just our nine seniors we have left, we didn’t want this to be our last game,” he said.
Century took care of the Cavs 4-2 during the regular season, but the rematch was competitive from the start. Kropfelder put the Knights ahead midway through the first half before South Carroll (8-6-1) answered seven minutes later when Carter Chesney lofted a shot over goalie Ethan Ricketts and into net coming off a corner kick attempt.
Chesney, a senior, took a short pass from sophomore Danny Caparotti and posted his 24th goal of the season. The Cavs had life, and they had their chances to take the lead down the stretch.
Century likely felt fortunate to get out of the first 10-minute overtime after playing defense for most of the period. Knights coach Trey Howes said he made some adjustments to counter South Carroll’s press on offense, moving senior midfielder Alex Grasso into more of a defensive spot on the field, and asked for connections from his players to maintain possession.
“The talk before the second overtime, we said we’re probably going to have two chances,” Howes said. “All we have to do is score one. We had our opportunity and we took it.”
Kropfelder scored with 7 minutes, 11 seconds remaining in the second OT, avoiding the drama of penalty kicks to determine which team advances to face Liberty (11-1-1) on Tuesday in the regional final.
The Cavaliers were dejected afterward, but first-year coach Ed Wharton said he was proud of their performance. From a strong defensive effort, anchored by senior Jacob Wenczkowski and junior goalie Charlie Boldosser, to Chesney’s sensational season, Wharton said he couldn’t have asked for much more.
“I love the way they played,” said Wharton, a longtime assistant at SC who replaced Tim Novotny before this season. “You can’t second-guess anything. We knew there would be a difficult transition, because Tim coached here for 10-plus years. ... We were really able to transition, and got better as the season went on.”
Century now gets a second crack at Liberty, the reigning county champion, which clipped the Knights 3-2 in overtime last week. Kropfelder scored in the second half of that game to give Century the lead, only to watch it slip away.
Kropfelder said the Knights are motivated to keep moving on from here.
“It’s a county rival, so it’s head-to-head, every 50-50 [ball], it’s just everybody giving 100% the whole entire game,” Kropfelder said between sips of chocolate milk. “The team that comes out with the win after this is really the team that, at the end of the day, is better. We want to be that team.”
Goals: SC-Carter Chesney; C-Kyle Kropfelder 2.
Assists: SC-Danny Caparotti; C-Alex Grasso.
Saves: SC-5 (Charlie Boldosser); C-4 (Ethan Ricketts).
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Halftime: Tied, 1-1.