Following each home game for his boys’ soccer team, South Lakes Coach Marty Pfister has held his Seahawks back for a few minutes, forcing them to practice penalty kicks while their knees are still weak. The improvised sessions are aimed at helping prepare the Seahawks for possible shootouts in the playoffs.
On Wednesday in the regular season finale against Langley, that preparation saved Pfister’s club sooner than expected.
After South Lakes had earned a penalty kick just feet from the Langley’s net a few minutes into overtime, Dylan Katz’s kick was rejected by Saxons keeper Joshua Lupas – but sophomore Andrew Duran swooped in behind everyone, gathered the rebound and beat Lupas to lift No. 2 South Lakes to a 1-0 overtime win in the AAA Liberty match in Reston.
“I was in the right position at the right time,” Duran said. “It is a big goal.”
South Lakes (12-1, 7-0) hasn’t lost since March 14, when T.C. Williams took down the Seahawks, 2-0, in the season opener. They have followed that setback with a run that included decisions in every match, including four overtime victories and four clean sheets, the last coming inWednesday’s thriller, which came on a night when pouring rain ravaged the South Lakes field.
The implications of Wednesday’s game were changed a week ago, when South Lakes clinched the Liberty regular season district title with a 1-0 win over Fairfax. Langley (7-4-2, 4-3-1) still put up a spirited effort in the season finale, fighting through the slop to create several promising scoring opportunities. South Lakes countered with a collection of set piece kicks at the net, but Langley’s 6-foot-4 goalkeeper Lupas made a number of acrobatic saves to keep the game scoreless.
After Lupas made the play of the night on a fully extended diving stop early in the second half, South Lakes missed chances off corner kicks – including a deflected ball that just buzzed by the crossbar at the 11-minute mark of the second half, and an Elvin Arbazia kick that hit the post with just more than 10 minutes remaining. He walked away with his shirt wrapped around his face, in disbelief.
“He did a good job. But we could’ve tested him more in the weather because we know it was wet and slick,” Katz said. “Obviously he’s a big guy, so we were almost playing to his strengths.”
On the winner, Katz’s penalty kick was batted out to the right of the box, and the sophomore made a deft cut at the ball, and didn’t think about where he was going with it. He just kicked it straight at Lupas, who got a hand on it before it hit the back of the net.
“I was anticipating a block,” Duran said. “I tried to locate it a little bit, and I was successful.”