By JASON ENES
ARIMO – What a difference a week makes.
When the Snake River and Marsh Valley High School boys soccer teams met in Thomas a week ago for the Panthers senior night the visitors from Arimo took care of business earning s a 5-0 victory.
Saturday the two teams met again, and this time 80 minutes was not enough to decide a winner, in fact 110 minutes was not enough time to decide a winner.
After playing to a scoreless draw for 110 minutes the game came down to penalty kicks.
Thanks to some huge saves by Panthers goalie Dakoda Taylor and the clinching kick from SR’s #4 the Panthers earned a 0-0 (5-4 penalty kick) in the 3A Fifth District soccer tournament at Marsh Valley High School.
“That was a fun way to start the district tournament,” Snake River head coach Trevor Peterson said. “We real tough the entire game and did what we needed to in the penalty kicks and Dakoda made some huge saves to clinch it for us.”
But to get to the deciding penalty kicks, Taylor and the rest of the Panthers had to withstand the pressure from the Eagles.
The opening 40 minutes was controlled by the Eagles as the ball spent most of the first half in the Panthers end of the field.
Taylor and the Panthers were able to withstand that pressure and keep the Eagles off the scoreboard.
In the second half the tables were turned in the Panthers favor.
Isaac Martinez had a couple of solid scoring opportunities including one that sailed just wide of the Eagles net as Snake River put pressure on the Marsh Valley defense the entire second half.
Unfortunately the Panthers were unable to get the winning goal and after 80 minutes the teams would head to overtime.
In the first 10 minute overtime period Taylor made two point blank saves off the foot of the Eagles Andrew Vaughan.
Snake River had their chance to end the game later in the first overtime when Martinez found himself open in front of the Eagles net. But just like his shots earlier in the game the ball went wide.
In the second OT, Martinez had another chance to win the game but his cross skimmed the crossbar and went out of bounds
After a second 10 minute overtime in which neither team could get a goal the game was to be decided by penalty kicks.
The Panthers made each of their first four penalty kicks, the Eagles however missed their first one thanks to a great save by Taylor.
“I just tried to focus as much as I could on their body movements and everything I could to get myself going in the right direction,” Taylor said.
He was watching closely as he dove and stopped the shot of Marsh Valley’s Ty Case to start the penalty kicks.
The Eagles would make their next three kicks sending up the Panthers Noah Parks with a chance to win the game.
Just before Park’s kick one of the assistant referees looked at Taylor and said “If he scores the game is over.”
Park’s shot went wide right.
“It was one of those things that was hard, but one of those times you need to keep your head on straight,” Taylor said of the referees comments. “You need to keep in the game until it’s over.”
Marsh Valley tied the score when Kayden Belnap made his kick.
Both teams next two players missed their opportunities meaning the next make and next save would end the game.
Snake’s Erik Gonzalez made his kick, meaning that Taylor would need a save to win the game.
When the Eagles Brandon Smedley let his kick go it immediately went high, as Taylor went right to stop it it continued high and went over the crossbar giving the Panthers the win.
“In that situation your mind kind of goes blank and does what it knows it should do,” Taylor said of the final penalty kick. “We have practiced all week on PK’s just in case it came to this point, it came down to it and I am glad we practiced it.”
Snake River takes on American Falls for a birth in the district championship game Monday at 3 p.m.