After 110 minutes of football that saw only two goals, one for each side, the state's Class C semifinal came down to a best-of-five-goal shootout.
One kicker (each team rotating through five hand-picked players) against one goalie for each team. Byron-Bergen/Elba, the #4 seed in the tournament, against Seton Catholic, the #1 seed.
The Bees coach, Ken Rogoyski, after the game, said he always regrets that a soccer game comes down to a shootout.
"No game should be decided by PKs (penalty kicks)," Rogoyski said. "Unfortunately, we need some way to see who advances."
A penalty kick is essentially a coin flip, a 50-50 chance to make a goal. There's pressure on both sides of the ball. It's as much a mind game as it is about athleticism. The kicker and the goalie must outguess each other. If the goalie guesses wrong and jumps the wrong way, he has no shot at blocking the shot. If the kicker guesses wrong, he has little hope of putting the ball in the back of the net.
On the first two penalty kick rounds, each goalie guessed right. On the next two, the guessing game favored the kickers.
So, coming into the fifth round, both sides were even at two goals each.
Braedyn Chambry made his kick to give the Bees a 3-2 edge.
That put the pressure on Carter Prinzi, normally a midfielder but called upon by Rogoyski to provide the keeper position with some fresh legs. Prinzi was well aware he had to outwit the opposing kicker.
He said he tried to use some body language to play mind games with the opposing kicker to hopefully get him to kick the ball where Prinzi wanted it to go. He was committed to a side, and he wanted to convince the kicker to pick that side.
We may never know if the trick worked, but the result was the same. The kicker kicked to his left, and Prinzi dove to his right and got his hands on the ball, batting it away.
"(Blocking the kick) means a lot," Prinzi said. "I mean, it pushed our team to the finals. It's probably one of the best moments in sports I've ever had."
Prinzi won the game within the game, and as a result, Byron-Bergen/Elba will play Mount Academy, the Section IX champs, today (Saturday) at 11:30 at Middletown High School for the state's Class C championship in Boys Soccer.
The championship game comes after the day after a long, hard-fought, high-energy game against Seton.
Rogoyski said his side would be ready.
"It's all about recovery," Rogoyski said. "Whoever recovers the best between now and tomorrow's game wins."
For much of the game, the Bees were defending a 1-0 lead on a goal by Jack Farner, with an assist from Colin Martin.
"Yeah, me and Colin, we've been doing it all season, just playing with each other, and I know where he's gonna place the ball, and I just run the way I think it's gonna go, and it just works out," Farner said.
Seton evened the score with less than 12 minutes left in regular time following a yellow card on a Bees defender within striking distance to the goal. The resulting kick sailed over the head of keeper Martin Mac Connell.
That led to a pair of 15-minute OT periods, both ending nil-nil and setting up the penalty kick shootout.
Rogoyski credited Seton for playing a great game.
The Bees seemed to dominate control up until Farner's goal, then Seton adjusted its tactics and began to make more incursions into Byron-Bergen's defense. The sides were evenly matched the rest of the way -- both getting their chances and both facing stout defenses when the scoring opportunities came.
"They played a good game, a great game," Rogoyski said. "They were tough. They were strong."
After such a long, tough game, Farner said he and his teammates will be ready for Sunday's 11:30 a.m. game.
"I'm feeling good," Farner said. "I'm just speechless. That (the shootout) was insane, but I feel confident that we're gonna get this win, and we're gonna come home state champs."
The Batavian was the only media outlet within Section V that had a reporter or photographer at the Class C state championship tournament in Boys Soccer. You can help support our coverage by joining Early Access Pass.