HENDERSON — An intense battle for the win broke out between the Crossroads Christian and Kerr-Vance Academy men’s soccer programs on Monday afternoon, which ultimately extended into two overtimes and penalty kicks.
CCS would be the team celebrating as the sun began to set behind their school’s treeline, as they outshot KVA 4-1 during the penalty kicks to claim their first win of the shortened 2020 season, which came as a huge relief for head coach Holden Coghill.
“They guys really had to dig deep to get the win,” Coghill said. “I’ve been really working on the guys about little talentless stats like effort, grit, determination and the general will to win. Both teams played incredible today, but we’re fortunate to get the win.”
KVA got on the board first after CCS goalkeeper junior Gage Edwards failed to corral a high ball, enabling senior Joel Lewis to slip past him for an easy goal. CCS provided an answer only a couple of minutes later with freshman Will Alston finding the back of the net to tie the game at 1-1.
Defense and missed opportunities for both programs dominated most of the first half until CCS junior Ryan Adcock charged past the KVA defense and launched the ball by junior goalkeeper Shane Musselman to give his team a 2-1 advantage at the intermission.
KVA senior Michael Holtzman broke a near-25 minute scoring drought that extended into the second half to even the score once again, but CCS took advantage of a relaxed KVA defense to quickly pull back in front with another goal from Alston, who danced around Musselman to get an open look.
With the clock winding down, KVA began to find more cohesion on both offense and defense while looking for the ideal scoring opportunity, which came in the form of a handball penalty on CCS. Holtzman scored on the ensuing penalty kick to send the game into overtime.
Both CCS and KVA obtained plenty of solid looks through two overtime periods, but each program’s defense held up enough to keep the other out of the net, which forced them to regroup ahead of game-ending penalty kicks.
After Alston and Holtzman scored for CCS and KVA respectively, Adcock gave CCS the lead after Musselman lost his grip on the shot attempt. Faced with Lewis, Edwards stood his ground and blocked his attempt, keeping CCS’ lead at 2-1.
CCS senior Noah Brantley proceeded to punch his shot in the net while Edwards stopped the ensuing challenge from KVA senior Coleman Merritt, leaving the game in the hands of CCS eighth-grader Thomas Shah.
The CCS sideline erupted as Shah finally ended the game with a successful shot on Musselman. He celebrated with his teammates at midfield before all of them converged on Edwards to congratulate him for two crucial saves during the penalty kicks.
While CCS enjoyed their victory, KVA head coach George Hoyle Jr. was left to console and motivate his players on their narrow defeat, but he credited his team for rebounding from an inconsistent start and putting themselves in a position to win the match.
“I was not impressed with our performance during the first 60 minutes,” Hoyle said. “During the last 20 minutes of the second half and in the two 10-minute overtime periods, I felt like we really controlled the game. We got the opportunities that we were hoping to have, but I would have really liked to see that energy throughout the entire game.”
Coghill said that he wants to see CCS improve on their passing and on-field coordination in certain situations during the final games, which he is approaching with confidence now that his team is completely healthy.
“This was the first game in which everyone who was on our roster was available,” Coghill said. “We’ve had guys who have been sick or injured all season, so I’m really excited moving forward. I feel like we’re undefeated with my full roster, so we’re going to try and springboard off that momentum.”
CCS and KVA are both back in action on the road today. CCS will travel to Raleigh in a match with St. Thomas More Academy at 3 p.m., while KVA heads to Goldsboro to face off with Wayne Country Day at 4:30 p.m..